Episode 9: The best bits of The Yaminade – 2014 Edition!

I was going to end the year on a high with The Yaminade – but to be honest episode 8 where we discussed how to use Yammer at a conference or event left me a bit disappointed.  So I decided to release one more episode of the podcast this year – a “Best of” podcast.  In this episode I share with you my favourite parts of the seven interviews about Yammer and Community management to date.

In this short and sharp episode you will hear:

I hope you enjoy it!  Let me know what you think below – and if you haven’t already – make sure you subscribe to (and review) The Yaminade on iTunes or your favourite podcast service!

See you in the new year!

 

Transcript of Episode 9 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to this latest episode of The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to building bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. You can find me on Twitter @paulwoods. I want to be completely honest with you, I published it a few weeks ago, it wasn’t the standard that I set myself for this podcast. So what I wanted to do was make it up to you all today and do a Best Of Episode, just like a family sitcom. I’m going to cut to my first seven episodes and we’ll forget about Episode 8 for now and listen to some of my favourite bits from Sarah, Rhiannan, Stan, Stefani, Steven, Simon and Hayley and hopefully for those of you who are new to the podcast, it will provide a great introduction. For those of you who have been following along for a while, here are the things to remember and apply in our workplaces. When we kicked off The Yaminade in Episode 1, we talked to Sarah Moran and we talked about the fear of doing the wrong thing in the Yammer network and community and touched on the implications that has for policy as well.

Paul: What kind of things should we be posting, what shouldn’t we be posting? Is there any guidance you’d like to give?

Sarah: It’s not what should or shouldn’t we do, but what if someone posts something bad. And that’s difficult because it’s covered in every other policy. Like, you know it’s covered in Sexual Harassment, etc. Just because the technology has created a different system, it doesn’t mean your system of communications changes.

Paul: If someone said that at the water cooler, the same rules apply, right?

Sarah: I think it was The ABC adopted a 4 line social media policy and the essence of it is actually one like and it’s “don’t be dumb!”

Paul: Exactly, “your name is on this!”

Sarah: Yeah, I was like “don’t be an idiot, and you’ll be fine!”

Paul: I don’t know if that keeps the lawyers happy though, that’s the only challenge!

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

Paul: I like the approach. The policy already exists: sexual harassment, how to you communicate within a brand and external communication, it’s all there…

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

Paul: Alright, let’s think about Episode 2 with Rhiannan Howell and she talked about growing her network sustainably, aligned with some leadership events they are running and other events they ran on their Yammer network.

Paul: What strategies did you put in place to get past that 50% watermark of having the organisation in the network?

Rhiannan: We had a specific strategy around opting-in.  We really didn’t want it to be bare. The Director General said “thou shalt join” so people joined. To get people on board, we used a face-to-face opportunity we were running across the state in a series of leadership roadshows where our leaders were going out and talking to people. We used it as an opportunity to soft-launch Yammer. We weaved it into our innovation key messages and said “there’s a platform here we’ve made available, give it a go, jump on board and tell us what your ideas are”. It’s particularly important for people who thought they were too buried in the hierarchy to get their ideas heard. That was really our linchpin in launching and that was in February this year.

Paul: So you position it as a tool to capture ideas and align with this roadshow. What happened after that, did you see a huge explosion in uptake after these events or was it sustained over time?

Rhiannan:  Probably in the first six weeks it was explosive and then as everyone experiences, there was a degree of slowdown, but we have around 10-15 people joining every day and that’s been pretty constant for the last month.

Paul: Now let’s go to Episode 3, perhaps one of my favourite interview throughout the entire Yaminade process so far, with Stan Garfield. It’s probably also the most commented on and Tweeted, this idea of SAFARIs that Stan talks about. I just want to replay that.

What tactics do you use to share those tactics and communicate those user cases? Are you running workshops with change champions that have taken that message out to the audience? Are you just sending a blanket email to everyone and hoping for the best? How do you get those reluctant adopters across the line by sharing these stories?

Stan: You have to try multiple approaches. One way is through training and awareness and mentoring and individual one-on-one handholding. Other ways are publishing information that people can consume. Hopefully it’s not just viewed as some sort of broadcast email but it’s more tuned to what people might pay attention to. Another way in which we’ve tried to do it is to have a simple and easy to use device to remember what the recommended user cases are. I came up with an acronym for that. So instead of saying “hey everyone, start using Yammer to collaborate” which is easy to ignore, what I said was “there are seven uses for Yammer and those can be remembered in the acronym: SAFARIS” so we put a picture of a giraffe on a slide and the seven letters of SAFARI, share, ask, find, answer, recognise, inform and suggest. I’m able to rattle those off to you not because I’m looking at them but the acronym makes it easy to remember. If people can remember the giraffe, the word SAFARIS and run through those letters, they’ll know that these are the seven things that Yammer does best. Even if you can only remember the first three: share, ask and find, then that’s a pretty good start. Spreading that message around, having that image appear on screens in offices, conducting regular training, having people able to ask questions about how they can more effectively use Yammer and sharing the stories. Then Yammer allows itself to be a great place to gather stories. Let’s say you post a question to Yammer and I answer you and you respond saying “thanks Stan that was very helpful, that allowed me to solve a problem I was struggling with” I can capture that thread as a success story and nobody needs to do any extra work, you don’t need to write it up or disseminate it.  I just share that into a collective group called Yammer Wins so when someone says “prove it to me that this is worthwhile” I can say “don’t take it from me, here, read this thread from an actual user and see how this helped them”.

Paul: In Episode 4, Stefani Butler, a Community Manager from Microsoft talked about whether you should you hire from inside or outside your organisation when looking for Community Managers.

A lot of the people I’ve talked to in the past and listening to this podcast have this vision of being a community manager or curate communities professionally, not just being .2 of their role in HR or Communications. Have you seen anyone transition from a traditional organisation role into a community management role? If so, what kind of things have you seen people do to make that transition? How have they created that vision or built the business case in their organisation to bring on that full-time community management capability?

Stefani: It’s a two-fold answer to your question. I have not witnessed someone transition per-se, I have witnessed customers transition their thinking about the day-job community manager role in the organisation to now creating a full-time equivalent resource. I have seen that and we’ll speak about that. I have seen someone attempt to transition into a full-time community management resource and that was a difficult transition because she did have the executive support and the C-suite support and the business strategy was to have her transition into a full-time resource, but quite honestly I did not get the impression that she was ready to be a full-time resource. Why is that important? When I think about it from a CSM standpoint – and I tell customers – when you’re going to add a layer onto what they’re already doing or transition them into a full-time resource, make sure that they’re passionate about this. One person said “this person is responsible for that line of business, they own that relationship, it’s natural that they would become the CM, the Community Manager” and that might seem logical in theory, but if the person is going to resists the social experience and be what we would consider at Microsoft a yellow or a red dot, I would encourage them to partner that person or identify someone else closely aligned from a similar skillset who is passionate about it, because you cannot have dispassionate community managers. You have to have people who are really good at it, or who will nurture it and are really good at it or can be developed in it. I think that’s about as simple as I can make it. I’ve seen customers transition their thinking around community management by adding a full-time resource. Not a whole lot, but we see them picking up momentum on this. I know three from the top of my head that from a confidentiality standpoint I won’t share without asking my fellow CSMs, but three customers I know who have added a full-time resource of Community Manager to their organisations. I commend them for that because it is a full-time job. I’d say that at the risk of people disagreeing with me. When you’re maturing your network, you can add that layer on to people who have capacity. It was definitely an add on to my position and I was a global lead for a division for internal communications and I did have a significant amount of accountability but it was something I was passionate about, so CMing didn’t feel like another layer, do you know what I mean?

Paul: If you were going to give someone a full-time community management role, would you bring someone in from outside of the organisation with fresh eyes or someone from inside who already knows how the company works?

Stefani: It’s a good question. I think it hinders on what the organisation has said their purpose is within Enterprise Social. We have customers who are approaching this experience still from a traditional standpoint and they still want to do the one way push and integrate that with their SharePoint intranet and really still control the message and engagement. If that’s the case, I would not bring somebody external into that experience. That’s neither good nor bad, I just want to make sure that if they develop, hire or create a CSM full-time role and do things they are traditionally do things the way they’ve done them, why not nurture and develop someone who is used to that. On the flipside, if they said “hey, we’re used to working this way but we want to explore a new way of working” then I’m a huge advocate from bringing in someone from outside, bringing in fresh thoughts and ideas, because you want to mix up the flow and the norm. You want to bring somebody who may not be used to doing things the way they have always been done and quite honestly someone who challenge the norm and I think an external hire is really well suited for that.

Paul: Brilliant. In Episode 5 with Steven Piotrowski. We talked about getting the attention of time-poor people. So for everyone in your organisation, how can you get them to care about and engage within your Yammer network?

So building up the Yammer community in a professional services organisation where everyone is too busy because they’re out billing with customers and they have their administrative job after hours where they do their timesheets and all the paperwork… and obviously the distributive nature of the organisation, how did you get people’s attention? How did you get them into that community into when they had that constraint of “I don’t have time for this?”

Steven: I think that is always a constraint with anything new and Yammer isn’t an exception in that scenario. Any new project or effort you have, you’re vying for people’s time, so you have to connect it to something they care about. My approach was to hark it back to my days as a consultant at Deloitte, to enter and become my own internal management consultant to them. I was using the network to see who the early adopters of the platform were, who were contributing to it and trying to get something out of it. Early on it was quite easy to see who those folks were. I would phone them up and explain that I had seen their activity on Yammer and ask them what they were trying to accomplish. I’d explain that I had seen them on Yammer and if I could help them. Then we’d talk about what collaboration meant for those colleagues. What was interesting about those conversations was that colleagues always thought they had great methods for themselves for how they got that information, shared ideas and sought ideas from others. The more you talk about it, the more you see friction in so many aspects of work with their team and stakeholders and the more distributed those relationships got, the more frictions there were. What that did was really open up a door to talk about how Yammer and SharePoint could help reduce or eliminate those frictions. It was a great entrée into those conversations. What would happen was one of two things: Not everyone is going to bite, due to the time constraint. Some folks said “no thank you very much” others said “oh my gosh, I need you to sit down with my team and I want my team agreeing that we are going to collectively begin to work like this” and those were the people I knew I had hooked and were going to become success stories in the network.

Paul: In Episode 6 with Simon Terry, we start talking about accountability in networks because if you think about it, when you’re in a network and don’t have that hierarchy, then how do you hold people accountable or how do people hold themselves accountable for what their actions or commitments they make in your Yammer community?

How do we hold people accountable when everyone is there’s no clear hierarchy of a reporting line? Maybe spend a little bit of time talking about the content you have been writing about accountability… I think that’s really valuable in the context of what we’re talking about here

Simon: I think the key to the points I have been exploring on my blog are that when you start to think about what accountability means… we have a traditional view of what accountability means in a hierarchy which is when other people use their hierarchical power to hold me to account. We actually know that that’s not a particularly effective form of accountability because it relies on the people in that hierarchy to know what’s going on, following through on their threats of negative penalties and as we all know in hierarchies there are all forms of ducking and diving and weaving on accountability. Often, the accountability is only one way, from the top to the bottom. There’s no accountability back up from bottom to top because senior executives are held accountable by boards and shareholders and they are often remote don’t understand the particular issues that the organisation would like the executives to be accountable for. What I think is interesting is when you change the frame and say “what does accountability look like in a network?” and that’s if you don’t hold up to your integrity, commitment and promises you’ve made in the network, you’ll find yourself losing trust. As you lose trust, you lose influence. As you lose influence, networks will route around you and stop dealing with you and deal with others instead to get things done. That concept of the network thinking who they can rely on to get things done works both ways and enables people to get stuff done without enforcement processes.  It’s a natural process of “I don’t like that person, I’ll follow someone else”. That mindset of a very agile network of accountability is really at the heart of what responsive organisations is all about.

Paul: It’s not just a Yammer natural selection, it also applies in the physical world just as equally as in the digital world.

Simon: Yeah, this is a social process. One of the things I love about social business is that it forces us to rethink management in terms of how humans behave. We already naturally avoid people we can’t trust and spend time with people we can trust. Trust is the most sophisticated algorithm that is built into the human brain. We can manage really complex trust relationships with hundreds of people and know who we will work with and who we won’t, we make judgements quickly and evolve those judgements as new things occur. Being able to leverage that, rather than fixed, arbitrary hierarchies and processes. One of the things that happens in hierarchies is that it’s ok to let down other silos, you just never let down your own because you’ll be held accountable by your own, but your own may not hold you to account for how you’ve let down silos. That creates terrible dynamics within an organisation but when you’re talking about a network, when you’re working with these people consistently, you don’t let them down because you’ve got to build and maintain a relationship with trust.

Paul: I can’t think of an organisation where that isn’t an issue. As soon as you’ve got more than two teams it becomes an issue!

Simon: Because we are humans who value relationships, what you create immediately when you talk about trust, is a personal accountability. That’s not something that is imposed, it’s coming out of me, I want to be that person in the relationship and I have to live up to that. I think creating a personal level of accountability is much more powerful than anything externally imposed.

Paul: Absolutely.

Then in Episode 7, the last good episode before that terrible one in Episode 8, Hayley Bushell shares with us her top three things she thinks people should do when starting their Yammer network.

Hayley: I would personally recommend the sync tool. Even if people don’t join but at least if they are aware, even if their team isn’t using it, they might not be exposed to that network to get on… that whole syncing with your Director, even if they just see the name…

2) Get your middle management on board.

Paul: [Laughs] steal the middle management from Workcover

Hayley: No, don’t steal them, we want them. Middle management create the excitement and set the tone for our people. They’re a great asset for Workcover and if you can get that middle management… even if you get ten on board and get them championing it to other managers that would really help!

3) Community Manager, can I say that? Get a Community Manager!

Paul: Very good.

So there you have it, there are my seven favourite parts of the first seven episodes of The Yaminade. Once again, thank you once again for your support over the last nine episodes. Thanks to those of you who have downloaded episodes of The Yaminade and tune in each week, I really appreciate your support and look forward to it moving into the New Year.

For those of you who have listened to the podcast and would love to share your story on The Yaminade, please drop a line with me on Twitter: @paulwoods and I’d really love to have you on an episode of The Yaminade in the New Year. All the best for the holiday season, thanks!

 

007 – Group strategy and using Yammer for Disaster Recovery with Hayley Bushell from Workcover Queensland

One of the most common questions we get from customers is “how do I do groups in Yammer?”.  Should I just let anyone create a group and hope for the best, population health or should I put some structure around it?  In this week’s episode of The Yaminade I talk to Hayley Bushell from Workcover Queensland.  She shares with us the strategy and structure they put around group creation, and other structural information technology tactics which has resulted in every employee actively engaging within their Yammer community.

Since the G20 Leaders Summit just wrapped up in Brisbane (where we both live) we discuss how Yammer was positioned as a key disaster recovery and business continuity tool in case the worst occurred over the G20 weekend (thankfully it didn’t, but still a great story to share!)

Transcript of Episode 7 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to The Yamindade. My name is Paul Woods, you can find me @paulwoods on Twitter. Today I have a very special guest with me today from Workcover Queensland, it’s Hayley Bushell, welcome to the podcast!

Hayley: Hi everyone, it’s Hayley from Workcover Queensland. I’m a Senior Solutions Consultant with Workcover Queensland and Workcover Queensland is workers’ insurance in Queensland, for injured. We provide over 150,000 policies for employees and it covers them for work-related injuries. We introduced Yammer probably about four years ago in late 2010 and we started off on the free version of Yammer.

Paul: Brilliant, that’s good!

Hayley: Yeah, definitely start on the free one. Like most people, it was the one person who said “hey, let’s try this out”. The one person happened to be in IT which I believe is unusual as most companies don’t start in IT… So for us that started in 2010 and grew to the point in 2012 where we decided to head down the enterprise version and we rolled it out to all of our people. It was a sort-of launch and we now have around 850 employees using Yammer and that is actually every one of our employees, so we encourage all our employees to join up.

Paul: Just before we get into it, I am a very happy Workcover customer. I once sliced my thumb open on an umbrella walking into my office, so I’ve used Workcover services and know that they do good stuff. What I want to talk to Hayley about is groups. What do you do with groups? Should we make them public or private? Most people we talk to say “let them make their own groups” but Workcover did things a little differently. Quickly talk through how you’re using groups in Workcover and how your managers are using those groups.

Hayley: Slightly different to most people… When we launched from the enterprise version back in 2012, we had strategy around it. We wanted it to guide people in how they used Yammer… we wanted it to grow organically as well, but we wanted people to feel comfortable. We set up six or seven groups to start with and now we have 14 groups that are actively being used. We tend to encourage people not to create groups, which I know is a bit different to how other companies use Yammer. The reason we do that is to break down silos and share information across a wider audience, so having more posts in fewer groups will allow people to share more information.

Paul: Give us some more information about those groups, what are they called?

Hayley: We have a standard one, so the whole company feed and a manager one where our managers post newsworthy items. This is the one that’s integrated into the homepage of our intranet, so this is the news you must know. The all company feed is nice to know stuff, where other content goes. We have other groups such as the claims chart, which is where all the claims-related stuff goes and then we’ve got a premium chart, so that’s for that side of thing…

Paul: Premiums as in those you collect from customers, not premium as in the best people, no?

Hayley: Yeah, exactly, insurance premiums. We have a group called Grapevine, yeah, ‘you heard it on the grapevine’, which is our social group where we get a lot of image content coming through, if you’re having a morning tea or competition, you find that people post images on there, comment and like. That’s a really nice one. We also have a couple of posters in there who will invite the whole organisation to Friday night drinks, that’s a really nice one and there’s a good social atmosphere in that group. We have a managers only group which is like a team agenda so we put things in there that we’d like them to raise in team meetings. Of course we still have face-to-face meetings within our organisations but we’ll post in there with things we want our managers to raise in the team meeting… I guess it’s a way for people to get the same message.

Paul: Is that public or private?

Hayley: That one is a private group, so you’ll have to be accepted to join that group… just to make sure the right people are in that group. We have an internet chatter group which is about the intranet and making sure it stays really fresh. We have a WC Tech group there and a lot of our Yammer stuff goes in there. We’ve just released a new app so our app and technology-related updates go there. We have a few private groups… we manage our BCP (Business Continuity Planning) through Yammer so it’s great way to make sure it’s not dependent on our internal systems. In light of G20, we have introduced one that updates all our Workcover staff so if there’s an incident in Brisbane City, we can inform our employees if they are out of the office.

Paul: so your disaster communication… thankfully nothing happened!

Hayley: No, it was very uneventful in Brisbane, but if something did happen, that would have been through Yammer

Paul: That’s a great overview of what you’re doing today. I want to hear about your journey to get to today. How did you get 800 people, your whole organisation, on board? What tactics do you use to get people aware of what Yammer was, how to use it, what it’s supposed to be used for, what value we can get out of it?

Hayley: It was fairly unstructured before we launched the enterprise version in 2012. At that point we introduced the Directory Sync (DSync tool) which will send an email automatically as we create an AD (Active Directory) account for one of our new people. Then they’ll set it up the active directory account and the people will get an email saying to join Yammer. You don’t have to join Yammer at that point, I guess that’s when the management side of things kick in. Our middle managers are amazing, they love Yammer, it’s almost a bit of a competition –

Paul: Where do you find these people? With every other organisation –

Hayley: Yeah they love it –

Paul: Why do they love it?

Hayley: I think it’s a culture thing. Right from the top down, it’s encouraged. And it’s the only form of communication. We don’t do bulk email, no distribution lists, no other form of bulk communication other than Yammer. We’ve put Yammer updates on the intranet, so it’s become part of the culture, part of the everyday so for that I’m really thankful our middle managers get on board. As part of the new-start process we have guidelines and a checklist which includes “have you signed your person up to Yammer? Have you signed up? Have you walked them through it and made them feel comfortable using it?”

Paul: Integrated into your on-board process?

Hayley: Definitely. I think that’s number one. When I talked about governance and the groups we have, I made a post on the intranet so people knew what they could post, just to help make people feel comfortable when posting, not going out on a limb. If it’s someone’s first post, we gave an example “you can post this kind of thing” which made people feel comfortable. That probably helped quite a bit. In saying that, one of the challenges and lessons learned is that we get a lot of those posts so it can be a bit samesy.

Paul: Give me a few examples by what you mean by people posting the same thing.

Hayley: We encourage people to praise, so if we receive a compliment through the website or on the phone, we encourage one of the managers to put up a praise, a thumbs up and post the praise saying “such and such has done this job”. Obviously it’s a very good thing, I can’t criticise praise, but we tend to get a lot of those posts.

Paul: This is the exact opposite of every other organisation in the world where managers are giving praise to their people and you’re complaining –

Hayley: – I’m not complaining, I’m saying we could probably work on it… Maybe a question type scenario to make it more meaningful. In terms of asking questions, it’s about putting yourself out there. Instead of just turning and asking the person next to you, you should put it on Yammer because instead of having one person answer you, you have the possibility of getting 850 people to respond to you, not that you’d want them all to respond but at least then everyone knows the answer, one person can tweak it. Whereas if you praise someone and just say “good job”, then that follow through is not really there.

Paul: That makes sense. So Middle managers are on board, what about senior executives?

Hayley: Again, I’m really lucky. We have a very flat structure, around 5 GMs then middle management under that and then team leads. For top-level management, it’s really good. They like and comment all the post, it’s great. Our CEO even posts, he’s not a habitual poster but that’s his form of communication, so if we have a big announcement or anything, he’ll get on board and post on Yammer.

Paul: It sounds like a lot of great success in getting people involved in the network and building that community. I’d like to hear some of the great success stories you’ve seen from the Yammer community over the last four years, no matter how big or how small –

Hayley: – it’s hard to pin them down! As part of the Claims group that we have, we are all about returning to work and health benefits at work, making sure injury workers can return to work, so we post good return to work stories on the claims chat and tag them with our industry.

Paul: – capturing customer stories

Hayley: yeah, and that helps for our communications team as we may use those externally as well and help to link other like employers, who can talk and learn from this, that’s been really positive and helped. Another one is that we needed to update our boring claim form –

Paul: – every organisation’s got forms!

Hayley: We posted the form and said “we’re going to make some changes” and had so many responses, it was fantastic!

Paul: What were some of the responses? “We need this extra field here because of x, y and z?”

Hayley: “this is a problem when the customer fills this in, this would be better if they could do it that way to help the customer out” and it came from all parts of the business, so it didn’t matter if you were from claims, communications, management or you had just started, you could provide insight into that.

Paul: You’ve taken part of your core business process which is the claims process and made it more effective by using the network to influence what it looks like, brilliant!

Hayley: It was pretty responsive because if you took a hard copy to people around the business, it would take a lot of time but this way within a few days we had a lot of responses, so it was very timely.

Paul: Earlier on we were talking about the need for community management. You don’t have a Community Manager, so talk me through how much of your role is dedicated to Yammer? I guess with the support of the middle management team it’s probably not as much as you would normally need…

Hayley: I’d say probably 5% of my role is dedicated to Yammer

Paul: A couple of hours per week

Hayley: If that. I’m on Yammer ‘cos I love it. I think it’s an awesome tool and I can see the benefits of it. I’m forever adding topics to post and things like that…

Paul: curating the content, adding a bit more structure so you could find it later on

Hayley: Yeah. If we had fifty groups like other people have, it would be more difficult, but because we have a limited number of groups, it makes things a bit easier to manage. In saying that, we do have a few external networks and people assigned to looking after those, so I’m not actually involved in those ones. I think community management is something that, if you’re going to grow your Yammer network into everything it could be, I think definitely a Community Manager or someone who has ownership over that part of the network would be a really good thing… maybe in the future?!

Paul: You said earlier, “we only have 800 people, maybe we don’t need a Community Manager, maybe we do”, where do you think is that sweet spot? Where is that watermark where you say “we need some dedicated resources to grow this?”

Hayley: I think it depends on where you are in the journey and the types of people… If you have a network of Gen-Y who are on top of social, they’ll probably self-moderate anyway. But depending on your workforce, if you have people who are uncomfortable with social or blogging, it’s more important to have that help.

Paul: The mix of the workforce… Workforce is a…

Hayley: I would call us more private sector

Paul: What’s the mix of the workforce?

Hayley: I don’t know off the top of my head. I believe we are predominately female. A lot of our management is quite young, which is why I our middle management are so on board with Yammer and that probably helps us. Any organisation of any kind needs champions and that’s one thing we don’t have as structured as what we could… maybe a private group where Yammer champions could talk together on how to improve things and make our Yammer network better. We’re in a good place but there’s always room for improvement and you can always get more out of it.

Paul: Everyone’s engaged because you’re not sending emails in bulk outside of that core communication channel. What is next? Think forward twelve, eighteen months, how do you see Yammer being used within Workcover?

Hayley: We could probably get to the point where people feel a bit more comfortable exposing yourself [laughs] exposing in terms of asking the question! You don’t need to know all the answers, Not everyone knows all the answers to everything and there’s nothing wrong with posting on Yammer and showing that you have a question and maybe someone else does too!

Paul: Almost a communications platform to a knowledge-based, find an expert, engage with an expert within the business…

Hayley: I know that Suncor have brought in a business helpdesk kind of things, in that IT aspect saying “you know you’ve got an issue with this program” bringing that more into the fundamental way you do things.

Paul: like a crowd source support mechanism for IT?

Hayley: yeah, I have this question but someone else in the business might be able to help as they might have had the same issue earlier in the week.

We could definitely use topics and tagging better and being able to search through those. We’re looking at integration. I guess there’s that question of “which tool do I use and when?” What we’ve done to alleviate that is to bring in all of our content on Yammer through to our intranet. That’s where our content lives and it’s the platform where you can get to everything. We don’t really want to change that so we’ve brought in Yammer to help with that. But at the moment it shows one group at a time. You can click through like a tabbed homepage and show groups. What we want to do is bring in content based on trending topics or think about how we do that. If someone tags something with news, that’s how we can bring that in. It’s about making things a bit more relevant on the homepage. If you let it get old, people won’t look at it so we want to make it current and relevant for our people to go there and get the information… Also possibly integrating Yammer into our core systems, to let them know that “hey there’s a new Yammer post to go with this, check it out”.

Paul: That makes sense. Thank you for sharing the story about Workcover and using Yammer. There are very few users who have been on Yammer for four years, so it’s great to hear from a customer who has gone through the journey that a lot of people are thinking about going through and has experienced the trials and tribulations, pitfalls and successes along the way. As a nice question to wrap up the conversation, if you had your time over, how would you approach it differently? What would you have done differently, if there are three things you can recommend to people?

Hayley: Although the governance thing has worked for our organisation, it’s probably limited in some ways and I’d like to see it take on a bit more organic growth as opposed to –

Paul: In terms of being structured –

Hayley: yeah, now that people feel comfortable using it and going there, we can probably do that. That’s probably something I’d change and I’d probably do that a bit sooner.

I would personally recommend the sync tool. Even if people don’t join but at least if they are aware, even if their team isn’t using it, they might not be exposed to that network to get on… that whole syncing with your Director, even if they just see the name…

2) get your middle management on board.

Paul: [laughs] Steal the middle management from Workcover

Hayley: No, don’t steal them, we want them. Middle management create the excitement and set the tone for our people. They’re a great asset for Workcover and if you can get that middle management… even if you get ten on board and get them championing it to other managers that would really help!

3) Community Manager, can I say that? Get a Community Manager!

Paul: Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us today. We’re filming this in a café so if I can’t edit out all the noise, I apologise. Thanks for joining us, Hayley Bushell.

Hayley: Thanks Paul!

 

Episode 6: Executive Engagement in Enterprise Social Networks / Work out Loud Week with Simon Terry

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the world’s leading minds when it comes to how working like a network can drive real business performance for organisations large and small – Simon Terry.  Simon is currently a consulting working with organisations around the world grapple with digital technologies and disruption – but previously he was the CEO of one of National Australia Bank’s businesses – HICAPS.

In this episode Simon shares his thoughts regarding how executives and their management teams can use enterprise social tools like Yammer to increase employee engagement, gastritis and ultimately drive real strategic outcomes.

For the second half of the episode we discuss the upcoming Work Out Loud week from 17 November.

 

Resources from this week’s episode of The Yaminade:

Read more of Simon’s work including his posts on accountability in networks

Other great people mentioned during this episode and their content:

John Stepper@johnstepper

 

Harold Jarche@jarche

Bryce Williams@thebryceswrite

Jane Bozarth@janebozarth

Johnathon Anthony@thismuchweknow

Austen Hunter@austenhunter

Luis Suarez – @elsua

Eric Kraus@erickraus

Transcript of Episode 6 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of The Yaminade. My name is Paul Woods and I had the great pleasure of talking to a digital transformation innovation and leadership expert. A lot of people in Australia know this man and his baked goods as well. Please welcome Simon Terry to The Yaminade.

Simon: Thanks Paul, it’s great to be here and I love the baked goods reference!

Paul: You make my mouth water every night when I see a fruit loaf being posted on Twitter! Follow Simon on Twitter @simongterry and you can follow the baked goods’ story. But that’s not why I invited him here today. First of all, he is one of the few people I’ve sat down with over the years and I’d rate our conversations as one of the top three lunchtime conversations I’ve had in my lifetime around business, performance and things within the Yammer community that we like to talk about such as working out loud, working as a network, etc. Hopefully the conversation we’ll have today will reflect the one we had a long time ago in Melbourne and give you some insight into the way Simon thinks about these things. Secondly, he’s had some good experience in lots of organisations including National Australia Bank (NAB) here in Australia and he was a CEO for one particular part of that which was HICAPS and I’ll get Simon to explain a bit more about that in a second. Finally for the last half of this podcast we’ll talk about something called working out loud and Work Out Loud Week which Simon has lots of great things to say about that. Simon, would you like to share your time at NAB and Yammer story as an executive at HICAPS?

Simon: Thanks Paul, it’s great to be on the show and thanks for setting the bar so high in terms of this conversation. I was an executive at NAB for over twelve years and experienced a variety of roles within that organisation. About half way through my journey at NAB, they began to use Yammer. Like many organisations back then, it started in the organisation virally. One of the things I first noticed and experienced at the time was that it was a great opportunity to create new conversations that cult through silos and connect through the organisation and enabled people to share information and connect in a really rich way. What was also evident at that time is that it had begun virally, it was unofficial. There was a real need for some leadership support, connection and sponsorship. Gradually, through a variety of roles that I had within the organisation, I got drawn into sponsoring unofficially and help shape the community with a community of champions, it wasn’t just me, I was just one we realised there was this fantastic leadership opportunity. I was CEO of the HICAPS business. HICAPS is a health insurance claiming business owned by NAB. It has a fantastic position in the Australian market, but it’s a small, standalone business in a very large financial services group. I had some fascinating insights of how Yammer could help a small business like that. To give you an example, many people didn’t know that NAB owned HICAPS as it is very separate, it has its own location and premises. The opportunity to use Yammer to work out loud and tell my story of running the HICAPS business and connect the rest of the NAB organisation to a successful business that they ran and to leverage the rest of the organisation to address the challenges of HICAPS: being able to get technology expertise from our Yammer network to talk about problems we had within HICAPS, or in one particular situation we had an outage in the HICAPS business. In that situation, NAB branches would often get queries from customers about HICAPS, but they weren’t used to finding information as it wasn’t on the radar for branch staff, so Yammer offered this fantastic opportunity where I, as CEO, was able to work out loud through the incident as it occurred, explaining to everyone on Yammer what we were trying to fix and how long the system would take. That was a great thing to be able to communicate all of that to customers of NABS and HICAPS. That opportunity really pulled me into the power and passion of enterprise social solutions like Yammer. Now I spent my time helping organisations to leverage enterprise social and collaboration and also thinking about how leadership has to change in this new era where the enterprise is much more networked.

Paul: Absolutely. That’s a great story and outcome about the power of a well-managed, well-engaged network on a community such as Yammer. How did the Yammer champions get your attention, to formally get you engaged?

Simon: For me it was driven out of my understanding of NAB’s strategic objectives and particularly among those objectives, its cultural transformation objectives. With a good understanding of the group’s strategy and what the group wanted to achieve as we moved forward, you look at what’s going on in Yammer and see positive outcomes towards group strategy. You saw frontline customer staff raising problems they had and asking Head Office to fix them. You saw people getting better information on the strategy and asking questions and clarifying what the strategic intent of the organisation was.  You saw people innovating together, actually getting together and saying “hey, I’m really interested in this new technology, how can we use it in the organisation?” and these really passionate and engaged threads where individuals who really believed in the potential of a particular piece of technology came together with people who’ve had the opportunity to apply it. I think the other thing which can’t be ignored is that all of this is visible, it’s all public.

All of this was going on in the organisation but they’re hidden. As you know being an executive, that the first thing is to have a sense of what you can see in the organisation before you can even start to make changes. That ability to see what was going on and to realise, as an executive, I could join those conversations and make a significant effort to help people. It wasn’t about making orders or telling people what to do. In most cases it was about me bringing my network to individuals who were really keen to make change. But  I, as an executive higher up the hierarchy, was able to get them leverage and the ability to do that and make simple gestures to enable people as I knew they had those problems, that showed me there was massive strategic value in a tool like Yammer. So we, very quickly in NAB developed two themes on our Yammer network.

One was around what we could do to foster collaboration for the purposes of innovation and the other was to share the type of leadership we wanted to grow in the organisation. Those two things set us up very well for the future development of the organisation. Out of those two things sprung focuses on things like Lean and continuous improvement and process improvement, customer experience design. When you get into those areas, the strategic value of collaboration and enterprise social networking becomes clear pretty quickly. For me it was initially about the potential and what we thought we could achieve. Because it was very business focus, it wasn’t a coms strategy issue or an engagement issue, it was very much around “hey we can use this to get stuff done that we can’t do”.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Did you have any backlash from your peers within the organisation? People like running other businesses within NAB, or was everyone on the same page, let loose, go for it?

Simon: Backlash is probably too extreme. Bemusement is probably a better word. Lots of the leaders at NAB understood the strategic rationale therefore I can honestly say most people were incredibly supportive. The bemusement came amount because:

  1. How do you find time to do it? I’m a busy senior executive, too busy to check my email, how do you find time to spend on Yammer?
  2. I’m not familiar with it, why would it make sense? Isn’t it a distraction from your daily business?

I saw it as a fantastic way to run my business more efficiently and a great way to connect with people that would help my business so I wasn’t in the realm that I thought it was costing my business and I didn’t get a huge return

Paul: Yeah, the time you’re spending –

Simon: – My email dropped. Because the HICAPS business wasn’t very well known in NAB, one of the things that became an accidental side product of the CEO of HICAPS’ role, was that was the job everyone could find if they wanted to ask a question of HICAPS. What my inbox was full of was people who wanted to ask questions of my team but routed them through me. Once I started using Yammer, people posted to Yammer as they knew it was somewhere I was always available. My team realised that if that question was related to them, it was probably a good idea that they answer it directly. What I discovered was that those questions had been posted in Yammer and answered by team members of mine and I didn’t even need to deal with them. So you started to see people realise that there was a better way of getting problems solved, getting communicated and every one of those answers became public, became searchable and people said “I always wanted to know how you did that”. A lot of those opportunities increased influence and productivity. As you know, I was the Senior Executive and it influences your commodity of trade. As you know, it’s far easier to build your influence through Yammer than something like email.

Paul: I’ve been following a number of your posts on your Tumblr feed around accountability and what we talk about with executives around “how do we hold people accountable when everyone is  there’s no clear hierarchy of a reporting line?” Maybe spend a little bit of time talking about the content you have been writing about accountability… I think that’s really valuable in the context of what we’re talking about here

Simon: I think the key to the points I have been exploring on my blog are that when you start to think about what accountability means… we have a traditional view of what accountability means in a hierarchy which is when other people use their hierarchical power to hold me to account. We actually know that that’s not a particularly effective form of accountability because it relies on the people in that hierarchy to know what’s going on, following through on their threats of negative penalties and as we all know in hierarchies there are all forms of ducking and diving and weaving on accountability. Often, the accountability is only one way, from the top to the bottom. There’s no accountability back up from bottom to top because senior executives are held accountable by boards and shareholders and they are often remote don’t understand the particular issues that the organisation would like the executives to be accountable for. What I think is interesting is when you change the frame and say “what does accountability look like in a network?” and that’s if you don’t hold up to your integrity, commitment and promises you’ve made in the network, you’ll find yourself losing trust. As you lose trust, you lose influence. As you lose influence, networks will route around you and stop dealing with you and deal with others instead to get things done. That concept of the network thinking who they can rely on to get things done works both ways and enables people to get stuff done without enforcement processes.  It’s a natural process of “I don’t like that person, I’ll follow someone else”. That mindset of a very agile network of accountability is really at the heart of what responsive organisations is all about

Paul: It’s not just a Yammer natural selection, it also applies in the physical world just as equally as in the digital world

Simon: Yeah, this is a social process. One of the things I love about social business is that it forces us to rethink management in terms of how humans behave. We already naturally avoid people we can’t trust and spend time with people we can trust. Trust is the most sophisticated algorithm that is built into the human brain. We can manage really complex trust relationships with hundreds of people and know who we will work with and who we won’t, we make judgements quickly and evolve those judgements as new things occur. Being able to leverage that, rather than fixed, arbitrary hierarchies and processes. One of the things that happens in hierarchies is that it’s ok to let down other silos, you just never let down your own because you’ll be held accountable by your own, but your own may not hold you to account for how you’ve let down silos. That creates terrible dynamics within an organisation but when you’re talking about a network, when you’re working with these people consistently, you don’t let them down because you’ve got to maintain a relationship with trust.

Paul: I can’t think of an organisation where that isn’t an issue. As soon as you’ve got more than two teams it becomes an issue

Simon: Because we are humans who value relationships, what you create immediately when you talk about trust, is a personal accountability. That’s not something that is imposed, it’s coming out of me, I want to be that person in the relationship and I have to live up to that. I think creating a personal level of accountability is much more powerful than anything externally imposed.

Paul: I think accountability in management in general is one of those things that as a manager myself and you being an executive that we try to align the business strategy and make sure people get done what needs to get done. It’s great to see some of that thinking coming through. Let’s switch tact a little bit, moving from your work at HICAPS to what you do today. Let’s talk about working out loud and Work Out Loud week which is coming up soon. Just a quick definition of what that is and where it’s come from?

Simon: Sure! The most common definition of Working Out Loud was originally proposed by Bryce WIliams who is from Eli Lilly. He’s involved with a lot of their content management, making your work visible, plus narrating your work. Talking about the process of working out loud and helping others engage and learn from your work. The really powerful about Working Out Loud, is that people think you’re bragging out loud and that it’s a process of describing about all the great things you’re working on. Working Out Loud isn’t talking about outcomes, it’s actually a practice of talking about what you’re doing now. It’s to describe uncompleted work and the process you’re going on with, a couple of things become possible. Firstly, other people might know how to help you complete that work. Secondly, people might have ways to tell you that you’re going wrong, or ways to help you work faster. But if you’re making your work transparent, other people can benefit from it and apply it. I’ve really got more and more into the practice of Working Out Loud. I’ve found an increase in my personal productivity because the more I share what I’m working on and thinking about, the more I discover great inputs coming back, great suggestions of ideas and people who want to work with me on particular topics, who are inspired by particular ideas or people who tell me I’m wrong and suggest a better direction to go. I think that’s a valuable piece of work.

To give you an example, the IP I had about what makes a Yammer network successful. I was finding that very hard, doing it on my own as a consultant, so what I did was Work Out Loud with a few individuals I knew and respected. I was putting all my IP out on the table everything out on the table for people to do what they thought with it. What I found was incredibly powerful. Everyone respected the fact that I was prepared to share stuff that wasn’t quite right and still needed developed. I got amazing feedback in the ideas people gave me that I would never have thought about in relation to that work. They started to create opportunities for me to use it and say “oh you should see this work that’s being developed by Simon, you should really have a chat to him about it” and they’d make introductions for me or help me grow the work in particular ways or make suggestions as to how I could use it.

Paul: So you not only have fast feedback that helps with the development of those ideas in getting them conceptualised and onto paper but they also help you share that knowledge more effectively also  because they connected you to people within their network.

Simon: Exactly. Because they had seen things in places which we had built together, they had more trust in these ideas and to stand and advocate them to others. Fantastic opportunities… I use this model to create value in these networks. You need to think about connecting people, sharing information, solving problems and then innovating together. It’s a bit of a maturity curve across those four steps. A fantastic thing I’ve found is that Working Out Loud is a fundamental accelerant across those four stages. It starts to accelerate the process of creating value in these networks because the more you surface work, the more easily you can make sure workers align to the strategic outcomes that they should be aligned to. You remove duplication: in any large organisation, there are at least two people working on the same thing and you don’t know it until they start to work out loud, or at least one of them works out loud and the other says “hey, I’ve already done that”. I think those kinds of opportunities come when people are more transparent. But at a personal level, the learning opportunities of Working Out Loud are phenomenal: changing your mind-set.

One of the things my blog has become is a process of personal management out loud. You mentioned my accountability posts before, that was me trying to work through what accountability meant on the blog, with the danger of people who knew better could tell me I was wrong but they could come in and tell me what other things I needed to consider as part of that process.

Paul: That’s a good problem to have, if people are coming in and telling you how to improve what you’re thinking about. I wouldn’t say that was a danger, I’d say that was one of the best opportunities of working out loud, getting that fast feedback, even if you’re completely on the wrong track, it enables you to get back on the straight and narrow and explore what you’re exploring.

Simon: I agree, Paul. But the way we traditionally think in management is the danger. Being found wrong is a danger, whereas you and I know that fast feedback and getting on with highly-productive work rather than grinding away at things that are no longer going to help you is a significant advantage.

Paul: It’s almost an idea of saving face, about people who are trying to save face and be correct all the time, when the ultimate way to save face is just to get better outcomes

Simon: Yeah, I’d much rather be judged on my outcomes than the process.

Paul: Absolutely. So Working Out Loud week is coming up soon and we’re recording this on 4th November which is Melbourne Cup Day. Just to say it’s a public holiday where Simon is, so I appreciate taking time off on your holiday to chat to me. Working Out Loud week is coming up in the middle of November, would you like to give me an overview about what it is, what are the goals of the week and how can participate in Work Out Loud week?

Simon: There are a number of people around the world who are big fans of working out loud and related practices like sharing your work. They believe strongly in the idea that this is beneficial to everyone in the way they work. What Working Out Loud week is, is an opportunity so celebrate that practice out loud and give people who might be new to Working Out Loud the opportunity to try for a short period of time. A week isn’t too long out of your life to give a try to a new practice. The reason we don’t have Working Out Loud day is that we think it’s a habit and we encourage people to put a bit of effort into it over a consistent period of time. The more you try it, the more benefits you realise. Working Out Loud week is from 17-24th November this year, the simplest way to get involved is to just start working out loud. Whether that’s in social channels externally, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or as simple as making your work visible by putting post-it notes around your work space to make your colleagues aware of what you’re doing. What we star to notice is that people engage in new interactions and meet people who can help them and that’s what we’re looking for. With people who have a bit more experience with Working Out Loud, John Stepper who has a great blog at johnstepper.com has a great talk on Working Out Loud that he has up on his blog there and we’d encourage people to present that talk or their own talk to their peers or people within the industry. We’d love to see people getting the message out about Working Out Loud. The focus of the week is to enable people to get involved in Working Out Loud and to work with others to watch what’s going on.

Paul: Are there any particular people that you know will be Working Out Loud that we should look out for?

Simon: I’ll be there, so you can follow that. You’ll see John Stepper @johnstepper and johnstepper.com. Jonathan Anthony from TMWK @thismuchweknow on Twitter. He has a fantastic blog with great insights on Working Out Loud. If anyone wants to know more about Jonathan, he worked out loud on a Pecha Kucha about Working Out Loud. Austen Hunter @austenhunter on Twitter is another exponent of Working Out Loud, as well as others around the world, people like Harold Jarche, Jane Bozarth who has really championed Show Your Work and a number of people getting involved. We have a Twitter account @wowweek where we collect and share best practices around Working Out Loud and a blog at wowweek.com where we reposting and linking to fantastic blog posts and other materials about Working Out Loud from around the world. What we’re trying to do is make Working Out Loud as accessible and visible for people who would like to get involved or just see what it does.

I think the point I mentioned before is that this doesn’t require you to make your entire life transparent on external social media. Working Out Loud is just a practice in questioning what you’re doing and how that could be shared with others. It could be as simple as post-it notes or just a poster in your office. It doesn’t have to be digital or external but the more you make it available to your network, the more opportunity there is for others to get involved.

Paul: I think it would be a great idea to work out loud about Work Out Loud, posting pictures or comments to @wowweek account on Instragram or Twitter, that would be a great way to show your success and challenges. One question in the back of my mind is that people who are new to Working Out Loud, there’ll be a cultural dip they need to go through before all their peers in the organisation accept what they’re doing “why on earth are you talking about what you’re doing?” Is there one piece of advice you would give? How do they manage the expectations and attitudes of others?

Simon: It’s a great point and for me the first thing to do is to go into it with the humility to realise you might be wrong and that you are learning and to express that viewpoint to other people. My sense and experience is that people are amazingly generous when your intent is to be more successful and help the organisation. It’s not about you, it’s about the work that you’re doing and achieving better outcomes, whether that work is personal or part of an organisation. Don’t assume that what you’re doing is obvious to other people. The reason Work Out Loud involves that step of narrating your work is that it actually enables you to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Narrating the fact that you’re working out loud because you want help and you find it challenging and this is what I’ve learned today and this might be of value to you… you start to do that and going back to my experience at NAB, when I started using the Yammer network extensively, it was unusual for a senior executive to do that. So I had to narrate what I was doing “I’m sharing this with you because of this reason and I think someone might be able to help”.

Another piece of advice comes from Eric Krauss who wrote a fantastic blog piece about it, “don’t try to be interesting, try to be interested”. You are not looking for praise, you are looking to share it with people who are doing that kind of work. You might actually share it in response to other people’s materials “hey that’s great, this might help you, these are some things I’ve been doing” if you adopt that humble learning approach and narrate your work and remember that your goal is to build a connection with people through this process… often the way to start is by making contributions to others, not necessarily by posting stuff. If you look out for that opportunity to share your work in response to the work of others, and John Stepper has some great stuff on this, it’s very hard for people to find that strange or worthy of criticism.

Paul: That makes perfect sense to me. I think there’s lots of value in what we’ve talked about today, we’re only just scratching the surface of the Simon Terry story and some of the thoughts and things you’ve posted on your blog or worked out loud about over the last year or two… I think we could probably record six or seven episodes like this just full of great content from yourself. To wrap up the episode, I’d like to give you the opportunity to share some of the resources you’ve been talking about, your blog so other people can connect straight into yourself and go straight to the source

Simon: I’m @simongterry on Twitter and a lot of the sharing you’ve described, including the pastries, goes on there. There’s also a pastry blog, but we’ll skip over that for present purposes. My main blog is simonterry.tumblr.com which is where I work out loud on some of the concepts and try and share that IP I’ve been working on how to manage collaboration in social networks. A lot of thinking about the future of work and responsive organisations. They are the principle resources.

Obviously if anyone is interested in getting in touch, feel free to get in touch via Twitter or any of the other channels

Paul: Supberb! Simon Terry, thank you so much for sharing your insights on working out loud. Thanks once again

Simon: Thanks Paul and thanks for the opportunity

Episode 3: Stan Garfield from Deloitte

Our first “international” guest on The Yaminade podcast is none other than Stan Garfield (@stangarfield) from Deloitte.  Many of you will know of Stan and be familiar with his leadership in knowledge management, sovaldi communities of practice, and social business.

In this episode we talk about his career – from the early days working at medical schools; building KM capability at Digital Equipment Corp, Compaq and HP; to where he is today as the Community Evangelist in Deloitte Global Knowledge Services.  Then we dive deeper into how Deloitte are using Yammer today to share knowledge across its 210,000 strong workforce, and ultimately deliver value to their customers.  Finally Stan gives us a sneak peak at a number of sessions he is participating in at the KMWorld conference in Washington DC this November

If you want to keep abreast of the thought leadership Stan is showing in this field, I encourage you if you are on LinkedIn make sure you follow Stan to see what he is publishing.

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form.  If you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

  1. Share The Yaminade with your friends, peers and co-workers!
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Transcript of Episode 3 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone, my name is Paul Woods and welcome to Episode 3 of The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to helping organisations build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. Before I introduce you to our first international guest or if you’re in the United States, the first local guest, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has subscribed on iTunes or added the podcast feed to their favourite podcast app. In particular, there have been quite a few people on the Yammer customer network that have supported the launch of The Yaminade over the past couple of weeks. Let’s call out a few names from Microsoft including Angus, Kirsty, Cynthia, Louise, Mike, Stefani, David, Ian, Luke and Gonzalo and plenty of others like Rick from Columbia Forest Products and Melanie from Cargill, Rhoshonda from Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, thank you so much for providing feedback and sharing The Yaminade with others on the network.

For everyone listening, I would love you to share this podcast with people who you think would get value out of this podcast or content. The easiest way to do that is to make sure you’re on top of The Yaminade content. I would love it if you could subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you could follow @theyaminade on Twitter. You can like us The Yaminade on Facebook at facebook.com/theyaminade or if you like email you can sign up to The Yaminade newsletter on theyaminade.com. That’s the best way to keep up to speed with what is going on with the show, when new episodes are released. As I suggested in Episode 0, we’re going to try for a fortnightly podcast, so expect an episode every two weeks. So let’s go to today’s guest. The first international guest on the show. We are very privileged to have one of the world’s leading minds on knowledge management, communities of practice, community facilitation, social media, and social business. Let’s just say that when it comes to what The Yaminade is all about, Stan Garfield is the man. Earlier this week I had the pleasure to speak to him from Detroit in the United States.

Stan is responsible for managing the Yammer community globally at consulting firm Deloitte. In this episode you’ll hear him talk about how he works with over 210,000 employees worldwide to share knowledge and get better customer outcomes using Yammer.

I hope you enjoy my chat with Stan Garfield.

Stan: Thanks a lot for having me on, Paul. I got started originally in the university world. I spent the first eight years working in medical schools at St Louis in Missouri. I was a computer technical person. First a computer programmer then the manager of a computer centre so I felt my career was likely to stay in the technical realm but what was interesting was that before I got into computer science, which is what I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I first thought I was going to be a journalist so I went to journalism school for my first year of college.. While I was there I discovered I liked Computer Science better but I think the combination of technical and journalism background has been good for me in my career.

So I spent a long time after the university experience working in the computer industries, first with digital equipment corporations, starting over 30 years ago and then working through a series of mergers with Compaq Computer and Hewlett Packard and altogether 25 years in the computer industry usually working in the Services part of the computer business. I usually had teams of people working for me delivering consulting or sales support or some sort of technical expertise to our sales force or clients or both. Along the way I put my journalistic background to use and they would usually have information that they needed and I was able to provide it to them. Before there was the Internet, if you can remember back that far, we had to use other means for sharing, post them on computer networks and send things through email. Around 1995 when the Internet started taking off and we had a digital corporation, it was a great thing because we could share information more easily, making it available to people without needing to know who they were in advance, just posting it and they could come and retrieve it.

At that time I was really able to take what I had learnt informally and usually on the side of another job and begin doing it more formally. In 1996 I was asked to start the first knowledge management program for Digital. So I did and I have been doing something within the field of knowledge management ever since and it’s been quite a while, almost as long as the field has been in existence. Along the way we’ve seen a number of changes, but the fundamental needs really haven’t even changed at all. Even if you go back further, there was always a need to connect people to allow them to ask each other questions to solve problems together and to share with each other things that would be helpful. We did that at Digital before there was anything called the Internet or social media. We did that using something called Notes Conferences. If you go back in time and come forward, in some ways, technology has changed a lot and in some ways we’re really doing a lot of the same thing, basically out of the core, the same fundamentals; getting people connected people so they can help each other out, being able to let people who don’t already know each other share an interest, connect and learn from each other and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Paul: Brilliant. A lot of people who listen to the podcast will be “digital natives” or Gen-Y who have been given the task of managing their communities on a social network. I’d love to hear your thoughts around the real differences in trying to build a community pre-internet before you had these tools that were like a lubricant for social connections before you had those tools versus today when you have technology which enables those connections to happen much more seamlessly.

Stan: It’s a great question and in some ways things haven’t changed at all. The same challenges exist which are largely behaviour challenges as opposed to technology challenges. Getting people to agree in a certain way that may be difficult to what they’re used to or comfortable with, hasn’t changed at all. What has changed now is that people are more used to the idea that they are expected to share with people. Before that wasn’t as widespread. Today, with personal networks that people use outside of the work environment like Facebook and Twitter, they are at least familiar with the idea of posting something, liking something and sharing it. But what hasn’t changed is the notion that  you have to make people see the benefit in being part of a community. If you look back, what caused people to use the communities that existed at Digital before the Internet was that they allowed them not just to use them for work-related but also non-work related opportunities. I think that was very important. They were allowed to have communities for the ski club or music or food lovers group. I think that helped because they could get comfortable using it in a way which matched their personal interests. Then when it came to asking in a business context, they were already used to it so it wasn’t a big ask for them, it wasn’t a big change from getting them to move from the next ski event to the technical solution to this problem.

If you look at where we are today, I think we still have some challenges with technology that make it easier to communicate through our phones, email, online or whatever way you prefer. We still have the fundamental challenge of getting someone to agree to ask something in public that could be exposing their ignorance. That same challenge is there. The people part of knowledge sharing is as much a challenge as any other part.

Paul: I would agree with that 100%, that fundamental fear of being exposed, it’s similar to the fear of people seeing their face on camera. It’s one of those things that are entrenched in human behaviour… You need to take people on the journey to make sure they can get across that dip to really get value out of connections that they can make on the networks or communities that you’re building, absolutely. Very good.

So today you’re at Deloitte, who are definitely not a small company. They’re a large multi-national consulting business services advisory organisation. How many people do you have at Deloitte at the moment?

Stan: Altogether, we have over 200,000 who are part of Deloitte. Deloitte is set up of a group of member firms in each country that has a Deloitte presence has its own separate firm with its own CEO and its own government. The global Deloitte is a network of these member firms which tries to share across the member firms and therefore the collaboration of networks become an important tool for them but you have an obstacle to overcome because in their local firms they can do whatever they want, they can use their own tool, they don’t necessarily have to connect outside that firm. So getting people to connect globally is an interesting one, because you want to show them that in addition to whatever local connections they may have there’s potential benefit in reaching outside of the local network to learn what people outside of their country may be doing a series of smaller ones to deal with. So we have that big global organisation but also a series of smaller ones to deal with.

Paul: It’s really important in your line of work in business consulting. The product you’re delivering is the knowledge and experience of the people on the ground working with the customers. If there’s any organisation where sharing information, knowledge and experiences across a global network would make perfect sense, this is the one, isn’t it?

Stan: It is and that’s why the firms that are currently known as the Big Four, of which Deloitte is one, were pioneers of knowledge management back in the mid-90s for the reasons that you mentioned, that knowledge is what we’re offering and essentially our capital is our people and their knowledge. We recognised early on that we needed to put in place processes and systems to enable our people to share with each other, to reuse what they had done in one part of the organisation to avoid making the same mistakes more than once, to avoid redundant effort and take advantage of the size of the organisation. You mentioned 200,000 people is a lot of people and there’s potential great benefit that we’ve done everything that can be done somewhere in the world, so make that fact known to each other. If we can make each other aware of what we’ve done, we can avoid reinventing the wheel!

Paul: That’s it. You talk about the wisdom of crowds, you’ve got your own crowd so you have enough people to get some information and give good advice to your customers around the world. What I’d be really interesting in is from the sound of it, being one of the Big Four, you’ve had that knowledge management culture or maturity before things like Enterprise Social came along. Did that translate really quickly into the Enterprise Social network when you rolled out things like Yammer or was there a struggle to translate lenge things that you did knowledge management world pre-social network world into a social network world?

Stan: It’s both. I think we both had some immediate success with and some ongoing challenges that we’re still dealing with. A couple of examples… one is Yammer was initially used by our Australian member firm and they were a pioneer for us. They licenced it for us before we licenced it globally. They had a nice head start and used it quite effectively and the CEO of the Australian member firm was a real champion of it. He personally uses Yammer and gets other people to use it and they follow his example. There’s a lot of energy there that would be viewed quite positively in Australia. But if you go to other member firms that haven’t pioneered it like Australia, it’s a little different. They feel like they’ve got their own established ways of doing things, they’re used to using their own personal networks, using email and other mechanisms so Yammer to them can strike them as something new and extra that they have to do. In order to overcome that, you have to be able to show them that for some things it’s going to work better than what they’re used to. You can’t just tell them “hey we have this new tool, start using it!” people are reluctant to do that, you have to show them “if you want a resource to up staff engagement, this is going to be a better way for you to get that quickly than if you tried something else”. Our emphasis is very clearly on stating our user cases are, where it’s beneficial to use it versus alternatives and then to share stories where it has been used effectively so others can benefit from that.

Paul: What tactics do you use to share those tactics and communicate those user cases? Are you running workshops with change champions that have taken that message out to the audience? Are you just sending a blanket email to everyone and hoping for the best? How do you get those reluctant adopters across the line by sharing these stories?

Stan: You have to try multiple approaches. One way is through training and awareness and mentoring and individual one-on-one handholding. Other ways are publishing information that people can consume. Hopefully it’s not just viewed as some sort of broadcast email but it’s more tuned to what people might pay attention to. Another way in which we’ve tried to do it is to have a simple and easy to use device to remember what the recommended user cases are. I came up with an acronym for that. So instead of saying “hey everyone, start using Yammer to collaborate” which is easy to ignore, what I said was “there are seven uses for Yammer and those can be remembered in the acronym: SAFARIS” so we put a picture of a giraffe on a slide and the seven letters of SAFARI, share, ask, find, answer, recognise, inform and suggest. I’m able to rattle those off to you not because I’m looking at them but the acronym makes it easy to remember. If people can remember the giraffe, the word SAFARIS and run through those letters, they’ll know that these are the seven things that Yammer does best. Even if you can only remember the first three: share, ask and find, then that’s a pretty good start. Spreading that message around, having that image appear on screens in offices, conducting regular training, having people able to ask questions about how they can more effectively use Yammer and sharing the stories. Then Yammer allows itself to be a great place to gather stories. Let’s say you post a question to Yammer and I answer you and you respond saying “thanks Stan that was very helpful, that allowed me to solve a problem I was struggling with” I can capture that thread as a success story and nobody needs to do any extra work, you don’t need to write it up or disseminate it.  I just share that into a collective group called Yammer Wins so when someone says “prove it to me that this is worthwhile” I can say “don’t take it from me, here, read this thread from an actual user and see how this helped them”.

Paul: The proof is absolutely in the pudding! Very good. It’s always great to hear success stories of Yammer Community Managers or people who are building Yammer communities on social platforms but the most interesting thing for people just getting started out is thinking about the challenges that you came across, the roadblocks or things that slowed you down and got in the way of you achieving what you were trying to achieve? With the Deloitte case, there’s a really clear alignment to your business strategy: knowledge is your core product and we need to make sure that we share that with everyone around the organisation. There’s a pretty clear alignment with the core of the company. I’d be really keen to hear, that even though with that alignment, what are the challenges that you’ve seen over the years as you’ve developed it across the world?

Stan: The first challenge was just getting the idea that we were going to have a global network. We still have some member firms that keep their own local network in addition to the global network. That was challenge number one. It would really work best if we had a single network, because then we would avoid fragmentation and silos that can exist when everyone has their own network… And we formed the global network at that time, there was a separate network in place for every one of our member firms, over a hundred and we managed to consolidate them all into a global network. We still have some, so about six local networks left. That’s a challenge because someone might be asking a question in the local network that could have been readily answered by the global network but it didn’t get there, so therefore we missed that opportunity… so that’s one challenge.

Paul: What’s the rationale for those subsidiaries or those partner organisations to maintain their local presence? What are the arguments they’re suggesting as to why they need to maintain a local presence?

Stan: I think because we were first and they didn’t want to disrupt it, that could be part of it. Then they want to keep their local discussions to themselves, which could be done through groups in the global group, but the perception is they want to keep their discussions to themselves… It could be a local language question, there could be a number of reasons. But over time we are going to continue working on that. For example, the Canadian firm which is one of our larger firms had their own local network, but once we launched our global network, they agreed to consolidate into the global network by creating the Team Canada Group within the global network, so whenever they want to have Canadian specific discussions, they can do so within that group as part of the global network, which would be our recommendation.

Paul: Any other challenges beyond a global or consolidated network…?

Stan: I would say three more.

One is groups. Within the network there’s a tendency for people to want to create their own group. That’s a variation of the network challenges… “I’ll create my own group where we can talk about this topic” and they don’t think about it more broadly. So one example is “I’m going to talk about SAP” in my country which is Luxembourg. What they don’t get that there’s nothing particularly unique about SAP in Luxembourg compared to SAP in some other country. If we have one single SAP group for Deloitte, there’s a lot more power in that than having a hundred groups for each country. So it’s about getting people to think across organisational boundaries. It’s a challenge, but when we overcome it, the results can be quite powerful for our largest groups which have a single group and they’ll have five, six, ten thousand members in those groups. The power in that is that you can make a promise to people which is if you go and post your question in the group, you’ll get a bunch of really useful answers immediately. If we have smaller groups, multiples that overlap, then it can be frustrating to users because they don’t know which group to go to and none of those groups may thrive, so that’s the second challenge.

The third challenge is how the networks are configured. The way that Yammer works it that the defaults are sometimes not as desirable as we’d like so initially a user may find that they get information flowing to their feed that they don’t care for and they then dismiss Yammer and say “oh, it’s a lot of noise, I’m not going to go back to it”. When in fact if they had just configured their feed, they would not have that objection. So getting things set up initially is important and we have to work with people to educate them about that.

Then the final challenge is about leadership. We had some success early on when launching Yammer that leaders conducted Yam Jams which are essentially half an hour to an hour long online jams where people would interact with the leaders which was nice, but what we need is leaders to continue to use Yammer beyond those one-time events… to routinely use it and set the example for other people who are looking for their lead who think “oh I see how those people are using Yammer, now it’s ok for me to use it”.

Paul: Yam Jams are a good way to get leaders on board for that flash in the pan engagement as you suggested. What have you done to encourage that next step with your team, the executive sponsors and each of those partner organisations? Have there been any specific tactics or is there anything that’s worked really well in getting the CEO of the Luxembourg subsidiary to be a regular contributor or regularly engaged on the network?

Stan: We have some digital mentoring that we do where we try and engage with those leaders, they may be uncomfortable with this technology or they may perceive that they don’t have time, but we try and show them how to do it with even a limited amount of time. For instance we can mail them messages from Yammer which they can respond to and that will end up being posted in Yammer. They don’t have to use it in ways they’re uncomfortable with, we can make it convenient for them to interact in ways that they’re used to. Another way is to try to solicit some who are a bit more willing to be out there as a way of getting feedback for employees. One of our good examples of that is our CIO is able to use it to say “what kind of technical changes would you like me to make in the next year” and get a large number of people responding to that because they appreciate that the CIO is asking for their input. Then when he comes back and says “we’ve heard to you, this is what we’re doing” it makes a powerful closed loop.

Paul: Absolutely. If you looked across all your partner organisations that are active on the global network, do you think there’s an opportunity to improve that level of executive engagement on the network or are their pockets where it’s not so good? Just give us an idea of the level of executive engagement you have across the community at the moment?

Stan: It’s something that we can definitely improve on. We have some that are using it quite well but we probably have a long way to go before we could say that we have the level of leadership engagement that we would like. Getting that improved both is a challenge, but the path is big. Each time you can get someone to see that you want them to do more than just be present for an occasional event that you’d like them to respond to a person who has just posted and give them some feedback, or like a post they made. The power of that can be immense. If I post something out there and see the leader of my organisation has liked that or responded back to me for taking the time to share, I’m much more likely to keep sharing because I have positive feedback from someone important. Plus that story will spread, people will tell each other “hey did you see what the leader did?” and we if we can get that to happen, it’s a big pay-off but we still have a long way to go. Many people would agree it’s a good idea, but getting them to change their routines is more difficult.

Paul: Absolutely. We’ve been talking a lot about inside your organisation and how you share throughout the network between subsidiaries or partner organisations throughout the Deloitte network. Being a knowledge organisation that needs to share knowledge with customers, are you applying any of this in your interactions within your networks? Are you using Social to bring your customer base to bring higher levels of customer service and then ultimately for you guys to increase your revenue longer term using technologies like Yammer?

Stan: We make extensive use of all the different social media tools. Not Yammer, Yammer we fitted to use within Deloitte, but if you a look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any major social technology, Deloitte embraces that and has people working on that and has people working on pursuing those channels. Whether it’s marketing, recruiting new talent, we have been using all those channels as a way of interacting with people and making sure that we’re viewed in the current trends and not behind. So we have a YouTube channel and we have things on Vine and SlideShare, where you will go, you tend to see a Deloitte presence but it allows people to interact with us in whatever way they prefer. If they want to interact with us on Twitter or LinkedIn they can and we’ve made a point of having a lot of our thought leaders be active on these channels. For example on LinkedIn where people are posting on the long-form blog posts and interacting with people as large numbers of our target audiences engaging with us that way. Then we go things like webinars – we have a series called Debriefs which are online webinars that we get a large number of people participating in so I think we’ve tried to embrace as many forms of interaction as possible and over time there’ll probably be some narrowing down of those, some channels thrive and some don’t, but right now we’re trying to use all of those to interact with clients, analysts, potential employees and so forth.

Paul: Ok, brilliant. I guess we’re getting to the end of the chat so what I’d really love to understand is, if you had your time again, if you were sitting in Detroit at Deloitte there and you had to start that community from scratch and the opportunity to start over again and not make mistakes and repeat more of your successes that generally got really good results in building the community, building engagement and getting people involved in sharing knowledge within the organisation. What would be the things that you would do again? What would be the advice that you would give to someone just starting out, building their own community or network?

Stan: For one, I would try and get this configuration problem solved better than we did. It’s partly not under our control because we have to work with the vendor and they have their own constraints. But if we could have put more influence on the vendor so that the configuration for a large organisation like ours could be different than what it had be for small ones… It came out of a small organisation and what they thought were the right settings and what worked for them really wasn’t the right settings for an organisation as large as ours. For example “what should the defaults be for your feeds, email notifications and daily digests?” they thought it wasn’t a bit deal but it turned out to be a big deal for adoption. Initial experience with the social network was that it was unpleasant and it’s hard to overcome. So get it right, get those configurations so the first experience people have is positive. Number two would be the question of many networks. It would be really nice if we started from scratch with one network and if everyone was in one place and they’re not frustrated from their local network when in fact they could have got help from their global network.

The third one is to do with groups. We had hoped that we could control the creation of groups so we can limit the amount of redundant groups that might be created. That’s not feasible, so consequently it’s possible for anyone to create a group and what that means is that there could be many, many groups on one topic and now we have to go back after they’re created and try to consolidate them to improve user experience. It would be better than before creating group, people check to see if there is one already and then become a co-leader of that group instead of creating a second one. Those are the three things I would try to go back and do if I could.

Paul: Ok, brilliant. That last comment you made is an interesting one. It’s almost a fine-balancing act. You almost want to give people the ability to create groups and value in the network, those knowledge sharing spaces… You don’t want to turn that off necessarily but you want to ensure you have the ability to consolidate those really good spaces together to make them more powerful and amplify the success of each of those individual groups.

Stan: That’s been a natural point of disagreement within the field of social networks. There are definitely people who think “let anything than can happen, happen… the survival of the fittest and let a thousand flowers bloom and all that…” Now the other extreme, when you’ve been around for as long as I have, you’ve seen it all and you know how things play out over time. Trying to see it from the point of view of the user. For instance when I started running the knowledge management programme at Hewlett Packard, they had a situation similar to groups which were essentially hundreds of distribution lists and what I realised was that no one would ever read through that list, they would just give up. None of those lists were successful. What we did was pool them down to a much smaller list then everything was able to take off. I think the same thing applies here. If you limit it, but not from the standpoint of telling people what not to do but instead encouraging them to be part of one that already exists… it’s all how you portray it… but if I say to you “rather than creating a second SAP group, I’d like you to become co-leader of the existing one” that’s a positive way of there still being just one, but it builds up it’s critical mass to a point where it serves all its users well and gives a better user experience because when they go to ask a question about SAP, there’s just one group for them and it’s not a confusing thing at all.

Paul: Brilliant, very good. Thank you very much Stan. I appreciate your thoughts that you’ve shared over the past half hour with us and the community around Yammer. I really appreciate it. One final question before we wrap up… As I mentioned at the start, you’re speaking at KM World in Washington DC in November. I’d like to hear a quick overview of the sessions you’re delivering and if anyone listening to the podcast is thinking of attending, it’d be a great opportunity to plug your sessions and give them an idea about what you’re talking about…

Stan: Sure, I’d be glad to and thanks for the opportunity. I’ll be doing three sessions on the day before the conference officially starts, there’s a workshop day of morning and afternoon workshops. In the morning I’ll be holding a workshop called Knowledge Management 101. It’s an induction to people who are getting started in the field so they can look at the steps they need to take to get a knowledge management initiative started. Then on the third day of the conference, the second day of the actual conference, there’ll be two sessions I’ll be involved in. One is a panel discussion along with some colleagues from other firms including Microsoft and Drive, we’ll be talking about how to increase adoption, so that’s an area that’s of interest to people in networks Then there’s a session I’ll be giving on social media, sort-of a tutorial on the different tools that exist and how you can use them in the context of knowledge sharing, so I’d welcome anyone who’s coming to attend those three sessions.

Paul: Brilliant. Anyone who’s interested in following Stan, he’s a prolific publisher. If you search for Stan Garfield on your favourite search engine you’ll find plenty of content that Stan has produced over the years. One of my favourite resources that I’ve seen recently is Stan’s SlideShare page where he lists a lot of presentations that he’s delivered with Deloitte and during his career. If you want more information or to learn more about his experiences, your favourite search engine is the best place to go and Stan has a great website which links off to those resources as well. Thank you very much Stan for sharing your stories on The Yaminade and thank you very much!

Stan: You’re welcome, thank you very much for having me.

Paul: Cheers

Rhiannan talking about her community management journey on Yammer

Episode 2: Rhiannan Howell from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads

This week I had the pleasure to have an informal #responsivecoffee with Rhiannan Howell (@rhi_jai) at Spring, treatment a great cafe in Brisbane City.  After finding one of the noisiest tables in Brisbane and sipping away on our long blacks we got the ZoomH4n and microphones out of the bag and pressed record…

(as a side note, information pills by turning the recording level down on the device you can’t hear how noisy the cafe and the road we were sitting beside was – so please forgive us half way through when we start talking about a B-Double Truck rumbling past!  Honestly we couldn’t hear each other across the table, order although you can’t really notice it on the podcast!  Having a good quality podcast voice recorder saved the day!)

Rhi is from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.  As one of many agencies that are part of the Queensland Government, TMR are going through a cultural renewal program which involves all 6500 employees.  One of the ideas that Rhi turned into action was driving the adoption, launch and engagement of a Yammer network across the organisation.

In this episode of The Yaminade, Rhi talks about the broader transition the organisation is going through, how she turned her idea to adopt Yammer into action, and some of the successes (and challenges) she and her Yammer Champions have seen over the past 6-12 months.

Links we discussed during The Yaminade this week…

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form!

Finally, if you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

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Transcript from Episode 2 of The Yaminade

Paul: Welcome to The Yaminade, Rhiannan Howell from The Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, Australia.

Rhiannan: Hi Paul

Paul: How you doing? [laughs]

Rhiannan: Really good, thanks!

Paul: Awkward start! We’re basically running our own responsive coffee between myself and Rhiannan. For those of you who don’t know what responsive coffee is, I’ll put a link into the show notes about it. I guess it’s a driving force within the Yammer community. If you want to meet other people who are facing similar challenges to you or looking to explore how to use Yammer or Enterprise social within their organisations, then get onto your local responsive coffee. So enough about that, Rhiannan let’s learn a little bit more about The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and what your organisation is trying to achieve.

Rhiannan: Sure. Transport and Main Roads is based in Queensland, Brisbane, that’s our central Head Office. We’ve got about 6500 staff in about 80 work locations across the state: some really big offices, some really small offices and we manage about 60 customer service centres where people can go and renew their rego and licencing for cars.

Paul: Basically like the Department of Motor Vehicles in the US but you’ve also got responsibility for main roads and highways in the state as well. You’ve kicked off this Yammer journey over the past twelve months. It’s aligned to us a really strong strategic initiative within the government. Talk to us a little bit more about that program and some of your goals and how they align with using Yammer at the moment.

Rhiannan: The Queensland Government is moving towards being the most responsive public service in the nation. So to do that the government has acknowledged that there needs to be a significant shift from the old bureaucratic commander control into a more network-type arrangement. TMR is really embracing that by aligning Yammer as a way of putting ideas into action, so really being a big strategic driver of our innovation agenda, which is probably one of the leading agendas in Queensland Public Service.

Paul: Before we get into Yammer, what are the things that are happening around the social network and what kind of activities are the organisation putting in place? From a leadership point of view, what’s the messaging coming from the workforce and then let’s dive into the Yammer thing itself.

Rhiannan: I undertook a bit of a social experiment. I work in a small area called Strategy Renewal, we’re leading innovation and workforce renewal, so really looking at what our leaders need to equip them to lead our people into the future. For us, it was about shaking up a very aged old, long-tenured service and disrupting what they’re trying to do. It’s about removing some controls and empowering people to try new things. For us, Yammer has been a key part of that process.

Paul: So being a public service government agency, a lot of your workforce had been there for a very long time and are used to doing things in a certain way. I think you mentioned you have people in the workforce that have worked there for 40 years and on top of that, so they’ve spent their entire career within the one organisation, they’ve seen everything. As for the Yammer network, give us some stats first, because we all love stats, how many people do you have on the network?

Rhiannan: We’ve got 3429 people when I last checked about 20 minutes ago. That’s about 54% of our workforce. I think we’ll get to 4000 and I don’t think we’ll get many more than that.

Paul: Why’s that?

Rhiannan: Just because of the type of work that some people do. Some of them don’t use computers. Some of them don’t have smart devices, particularly some of our workers in the older generation. We don’t push it, it’s not a compliance activity for us, it’s about giving people access to the tools and allowing them to opt-in to the process.

Paul: What strategies did you put in place to get past that 50% watermark of having the organisation in the network?

Rhiannan: We had a specific strategy around opting-in. We really didn’t want it to be bare. The Director General said “thou shalt join” so people joined. To get people on board, we used a face-to-face opportunity we were running across the state in a series of leadership roadshows where our leaders were going out and talking to people. We used it as an opportunity to soft-launch Yammer. We weaved it into our innovation key messages and said “there’s a platform here we’ve made available, give it a go, jump on board and tell us what your ideas are”. It’s particularly important for people who thought they were too buried in the hierarchy to get their ideas heard. That was really our linchpin in launching and that was in February this year.

Paul: So you position it as a tool to capture ideas and align with this roadshow. What happened after that, did you see a huge explosion in uptake after these events or was it sustained over time?

Rhiannan: Probably in the first six weeks it was explosive and then as everyone experiences, there was a degree of slowdown, but we have around 10-15 people joining every day and that’s been pretty constant for the last month.

Paul: Your launch event for your community on Yammer was this leadership roadshow where you have executives encouraging people to test it out, which is great.. Once you’ve got people in the network, what activities do you use to drive engagement, to make sure it’s sticking and going to be integrated into business processes?

Rhiannan: It wasn’t about the number of people joining the network so we created a series of micro-challenges which align to our Public Service Values. We’re trying to embed through Grow Not Show strategy.

Paul: A clear alignment to core values and aspired cultural values in the organisation.

Rhiannan: That gave people something to do when they got there. We also encouraged people to create their own groups and we encourage them to make them cross-functional, so it wasn’t about “my branch is doing this or my location is doing that”, it was about connecting people from across the state.

Paul: I should just jump on something there and it’s a question we get all the time, what’s the strategy across groups, shall we have a hierarchy of groups or taxonomy of what groups are put into a network or do we let anyone create a group? It sounds like you said let anyone create a group if you need a group, just try to include as many people as you can

Rhiannan: And to relate groups to each other so they can be linked and people can then follow a theme and jump on board for other groups. We’ve gone out with the strategy of making everything public as much as you can. That would be my advice to anyone. The whole intent of Yammer for us is about transparency and connecting people who can’t traditionally be connected, so I would encourage as many groups to be public as I can.

Paul: Metrics are always good, how many networks do you think you’ve got in your group?

Rhiannan: 215

Paul: Do you have any plans around governance? People see that and think “there’s 215 groups, how are you going to manage that?” or are you just going to let it be organic?

Rhiannan: Definitely let it be organic. My community management role is 5-10% of my day job. The idea of us using Yammer to really disrupt the culture in TMR is about everything in TMR you need approval for or there’s a form you need to fill out and someone needs to sign something off, so Yammer is about totally disrupting that.

Paul: A breathe of fresh air! [laughs]

Rhiannan: Totally!

Paul: Apart from yourself, 5-10% of your role, so let’s be generous and say that’s 8-10 hours a week, maybe on your lunch break, is there anyone else inside your organisation who is formally tasked with managing this? Or have you built an informal network of people to do the heavy lifting for you?

Rhiannan: I’ve built an informal network and that’s from people who have an appetite and a real desire to embed Yammer as a business tool within their teams.

Paul: How did you find those people? Did they just come out of the woodwork?

Rhiannan: There’s no volunteer process, so it was about me observing the staff and having a look at the people who were getting on board and tagging people in posts, and showing a keen desire

Paul: So it’s data-driven response to building your team of Change Champions, people who are active in the network and who are starting to show those behaviours and have jumped on board with them

Rhiannan: This spread all over state. The Customer Service Centre Manager in Mount Isa was my first Yammer Champion.

Paul: To put that into context, Mount Isa is as far away as you can go where there’s civilisation in Brisbane!

Rhiannan: It’s a mining town of about 10,000 people and it’s completely different to Brissie.

Paul: It’s a different world! Out of those Change Champions who are just doing it because they want to, are there any behaviours of attributes that people could look for? So if they don’t have a network but are trying to set one up….

Rhiannan: We’re looking for Yammer to embed our values within the organisation, so I was looking for people who were demonstrating putting customers first, being courageous, unleash your potential, empowering people and really focusing on those attributes that I was looking for, but also people who were coming to me and asking me questions “how do I do this? How do I set up this group? I have this problem in my team, how can Yammer help me?” “hey I’ve got this informal network, you don’t get anything extra for it except my gratitude”

Paul: And that’s worth a lot

Rhiannan: and I haven’t had one say no so I’ve got about ten people in my network.

Paul: Very good. So we’ve talked about the good things. Let’s talk about the harder things, the more challenging things, the pull-your-hair-out type things. For me, it’s middle managers. It’s this layer of an organisation where it’s really difficult to get traction. They have had their own control over the communication process for so long and now they’re losing this. Do you have any middle managers who are on board with this or is this a gap you see?

Rhiannan: It’s definitely the gap I see in my network. On a handful of occasions I’ve had people tell me that they are going to leave the network because their Manager isn’t happy or he’s trying to censor what they’re trying to say on Yammer. We got a really good buy-in from the top and grassroots, but it’s the people in the middle we’re struggling in it.

Paul: Have you seen any examples of success where one of those Middle Managers has got on board and wants to share the success with the team?

Rhiannan: We’ve got a strategic policy area which will look after 30 year long-term vision strategies for The Transport Network. Their management group has really got on board about it being an opportunity for them to have a voice in the organisation. They’re hosting the Yam Jam next Friday. It’ll be the first non-strategy and renewal type Yam Jam that’s happening in the business and it’s around the Queensland Plan.

Paul: The context of the Queensland Plan is basically a vision for the next twenty to thirty years for the state of Queensland and how government agencies like the Department for Transport and Main Roads respond do this.

Rhiannan: Absolutely.

Paul: I’ve been watching all the adverts so I’m an informed constituent. Another thing is that none of your offices have Wi-Fi?

Rhiannan: I think one office has Wi-Fi!

Paul: So when I say a lot, all of them! That’s an interesting thing to think about. If you’re using Yammer and encouraging people to use it on their devices, but if you want that kind of engagement within the office, you can’t have those opportunities where you can engage and go down to the shop or another office, it’s hard to get that connection between the individual and the end point.

Rhiannan: I have no doubt that if we had Wi-Fi we’d see engagement increasing. I think it’s on the long-term roadmap. Right now we’ve got a lot of facilities that we’re moving out of, so it makes sense for them to consolidate the accommodation strategy before we go down that path.

Paul: Exactly. I love hearing the success stories of people using Yammer, and how Yammer has changed their organisation. Do you have a Yam Win that you’ve seen in the last six to twelve months that absolutely summarises why TMR is doing that, that lighthouse story?

Rhiannan: To pick one example is hard, there’s a few I can think of –

Paul: You can choose more than one

Rhiannan: – that have really reinforced it for me. As I said, Yammer has been part of our innovation agenda. We work on this theory that we need to stop the air sandwich. So previously in TMR we’ve had strategy developed with no execution in mind and vice versa, so you have a really good strategy but terrible execution, or really good execution with terrible strategy. So we’re trying to reduce the gap and use Yammer as a way of sourcing input from the department on really key pieces of work, like our innovation strategy which was our first Yam Jam we had 180 bits of input within an hour which really –

Paul: That’s sensational! How long would that take to get that kind of engagement from your workforce in the past?

Rhiannan: We did in April, so I think we’d still be going

Paul: You’d only be halfway there [laughs]

Rhiannan: If that! Have those ideas turned into action? It’s really easy to collect information but have we seen that translated into real business outcomes?

Rhiannan: Absolutely. On that example, the innovation strategy sourced our ideas, went back to the community that provided the input and rescoped some part of that strategy so that was a key bit for us and now the team in my area that focuses on innovation is looking at the strategy, so they’re building innovation capability frameworks, they’re looking at R&D spend and how we can better utilise that, so they have a pipeline that they’re working their way through.

Paul: Brilliant. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened that you thought would never happen??

Rhiannan: A couple of weeks ago our corporate area ran a Leadership and Diversity event in the cube, which is a fantastic facility.

Paul: I’ll put a link down in the show notes. It’s down at the Queensland Technology, the perfect place to put ideas out there and start thinking about stuff.

Rhiannan: We had a panel event where we invited some key speakers to talk about not just women in leadership but diversity in general. Following on from that, it was the first time we streamed something to our officers so it wasn’t a Brisbane-central issue. We followed up with a post on Yammer by TMR and we’ve had 80 posts about recognising women in leadership, really good examples of leadership and that’s just conversations that haven’t happened before.

Paul: It’s purely because you had an event which is realistically localised by geography. If you’re within 100km of Brisbane, you could get to it and you’ve never had that opportunity to share it with people before. Brilliant. I love stories like that which allow people to be discovered and working out loud on a network like Yammer. The content and connections are there and you’re not hiding it from anyone. If people want to jump on it they can. A nice way to wrap this up is that a lot of people are in your shoes, but they’re right at the start of the journey. What things would you have done to make things easier? What would you have done differently, potentially, that would bring you greater success? What do you wish you knew six to twelve months ago?

Rhiannan: I guess what I talked about earlier was that Yammer for us was an ideas we put into action within 5 days. So we went from it being an idea in the back of my brain to being a network in five days. If I had my time again, I’d have an extra five days to think about how we’re engaging people and what we do when we get them there. With the micro-challenges, we incorporated them almost at the eleventh hour, so there’s some really due consideration around that. We’ve got heaps of great ideas but it’s about connecting into the pipeline so we can demonstrate that this isn’t somewhere you put your ideas into it and it goes into a black hole, it’s about driving efforts and we’re developing a process called Idea Jam, but we can talk about that another night.

Paul: Idea Jam? Sounds like a whole other episode, that’s great!

Rhiannan: Secondly, really establishing some kind of formal Yammer Champion network which I could incorporate – community management into people’s jobs. If I go on leave, which I haven’t since we’ve had Yammer, we would potentially have a problem.

Paul: everything would fall apart.

Rhiannan: So I’d formalise that so I would have more support.

Paul: You’d put some process in place to ensure that whoever’s there, there is some formal process to keep things are on track.

Rhiannan: And for discovery of information too, if we have an RTI (Right for Information request), people can access the data

Paul: One more?

Rhiannan: It probably goes back to the start. I probably didn’t have a grasp on the functionality, so I was figuring out how to do praise from the start, and I think that having gone through certification like community management certification that’s offered through Yammer, that would have been good.

Paul: Some awareness with what’s possible with the tools. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and the rest of the Yaminade community. I think that story is quite powerful: you have a large, diverse organisation with geographical spread, an ageing workforce and a Gen-Y workforce in the same time working together to get great outcomes and it’s really aligned to the cultural renewal that the organisation is going through and it’s an example of how enterprise-social tools can really drive business outcomes. Thank you, Rhiannan!

Rhiannan: Any time, Paul!

Episode 1: Sarah Moran from GO1

This week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Sarah Moran (@sarahmoran).  As you will hear during this episode Sarah has a lot of experience building “physical communities” (… that sounds bad!  I mean non-digital communities!) and translating that experience to build community around brands like Virgin Australia, seek Tourism Queensland and more.  She is currently the Brand and Marketing Manager at a small but growing application development house called GO1.

In this episode Sarah shares with us some of the exciting, buy information pills and challenging aspects of community management within a small but high growth and geographically dispersed organisaton – with the added complexity of language barriers in her Yammer network.

Links we discussed during The Yaminade this week…

Remember… it is episode one – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form!

Finally, if you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

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Transcript of Episode 1 of The Yaminade

Paul:  Today we’re talking to Sarah Moran, our very first guest on The Yaminade so thanks for joining us. If you’re in Australia, Sarah has a bit of an online presence, she’s been around the online management troughs in the online community If you’re so we can get some perspective on what you’re about to share with us?

Sarah: I’m a digital native and lover of all things Internet. But also offline I’ve done a lot of community initiatives. In 2008, did you know, Paul, I was Queensland’s Young Volunteer of the Year?

Paul: Oh congratulations!

Sarah: Thank you, it’s a little feather in my cap there! I think I took my love of building community offline and saw the potential that the Internet had for building community online and how you could build global communities or niche interest communities so I very early got on board with doing that.

Paul: Very good. You’ve worked some pretty amazing brands and amazing campaigns like Virgin Australia and Tourism Queensland

Sarah: Yeah, being able to apply community management in a marketing sense and getting people excited about an idea or concept or place really sparked my interest early. I was Virgin Australia’s first Social Media Manager and was able to build up the online communities for Virgin Australia and Virgin Blue back in the day. I was one of the first full-time Social Media Managers but I would also say Community Managers employed full-time for the brand. After that I was lucky enough to take part in Tourism Queensland’s best job –

Paul: A lot of people listening internationally might not have heard of that one –

Sarah: it’s funny the people you meet and they say “oh you live in Queensland, they have good jobs there, right?”

Paul: That was me!

Sarah: I went a whirlwind tour of the world in 12 days as part of that, building social media content about random hotel rooms in Japan at all hours of the evening… then I went on to work for Tourism Victoria I was @Melbourne on Twitter which was quite a privilege

Paul: And a responsibility

Sarah: Yeah I reckon! The hipsters will have you if you’ll mess with their brand! And being able to build up that content there and that community of people across Facebook and Twitter and a variety of other places. My favourite was YouTube, and I think that that’s something that I think a lot of Community Managers, even now, haven’t fallen in love with in the way I’d like to see.

Paul: And not just externally but internally too, how do you share those stories that occur within your organisation

Sarah: Well when you talk about internal management, there was this funny sort of thing that happened as Social Media Manager, people look to you for being the tech innovation and people want to apply these things internally as much as externally, even in terms of policy, people say “can I share this on Facebook or will I get in trouble?” [laughs]

Paul: Exactly. Policy is one of those things we get a lot of questions about. What is the right policy to place and then more importantly how do we reduce that between policy and practice. It’s all very well having a policy but if you don’t follow it or it’s not something people can understand and it can’t be execute on, it’s going to be a challenge!

Sarah: It’s one of those funny things that unless I’m friends with that person on Facebook I don’t know that they’ve posted it but how nice is it that they want to post about work to their friends and family.

Paul: Yeah, it’s a place that people want to work!

Sarah: I’ve been very privileged to be able to work with a number of high-profile brands and at the same time, given that the roles will always be innovative, be able to apply them externally and internally.

Paul: Brilliant. The focus of this podcast is about internal community management, though you can use Yammer to build external communities, which is probably a discussion for another day. Talk me through your current role and some of the things you’re trying to achieve with GO1, which I’m sure you’ll talk about in a second and look at how you’re trying to build a community within that community by using the tools that are available to you.

Sarah: At the minute I’m working as Director of Marketing for GO1 and we build a number of different Enterprise products but we are also massive users of Office 365. When I introduced the CEO to Yammer, he wanted to do it for a while but he didn’t have the capacity to champion it as a natural Community Manager, and I’m a natural Community Manager.

Paul: Yes

Sarah: In fact I made a vow to myself that I won’t work for a company if they don’t use Yammer as it’s very reflective of them. If the group of people working there haven’t demanded it, then it’s not the place for me. We have offices across Australia and across the world. Being able to community globally within a company is 1) very important and 2) very exciting, to be able to get real-time ideas on feedback or marketing concepts means I’m not in a silo as the Marketing Director, everyone can contribute to ideas and make them better which has been really amazing to see.

Paul: It’s intereting. You talk about being a global organisation, where are your offices located?

Sarah: Vietnam, San Francisco, we’ve got a couple of offices in Australia and we’re about to open up in the UK.

Paul: So obviously there’s a big language barrier between San Francisco and Australia, with Australian English and American English and the z’s and s’s, but the interesting one for me is Vietnam. There’s obviously a language barrier there. How did you go about creating or engaging a community when English isn’t their first language?

Sarah: One of the best things for us is encouraging people to talk with photos and animated gifs which are the universal language of the Internet.

Paul: Cats and gifs, yeah!

Sarah: That has really helped us engage. What we didn’t have before we started our Yammer network was, you know, that you might see a name in an email but you might not have any awareness of who they are as a human that you’re working with. So we were able to empower them to share as they would and without policy. I live in the privileged world of start-ups and policy comes second! [laughs]

Paul: We’ll worry about that later

Sarah: We were able to build up this sense of engagement through logos and other language that isn’t just words. Also we brought on a team member who enthusiastically, if necessary, would translate. For us, that was really good as we don’t speak Vietnamese. But to know that there is that same amount of love going into messages and translations was really good.

Paul: Very good. From a global perspective that’s really interesting. The other angle I’d love to explore is building community within a start-up or within a small team. I’m assuming in the start-up world the team would be pretty close already, is that generally the case?

Sarah: That’s probably the biggest hurdle you face when you bring on new team members. Once you’ve hired all your friends [laughs] you need to reach outside that for certain skill-sets, We’ve definitely gone through that organisationally of, “ok we need to grow our capacity, so how do you, in a start-up, bring on new team members without a formal induction process?” so we use hashtags to say “oi newbie, look over here”

Paul: #newbie

Sarah: and that’s great because in an organisation you should only have to answer a question once. That’s how I feel about Yammer and it’s biggest value for me is that I can answer a question once in one place and know that it lives there and people can just search. Like “oh how do I fix the printer?” “I’m sure the printer has been broken before”.

Paul: The printer’s always broken anyway!

Sarah: Internal search for that person. So they don’t have that inhibition around asking questions because if they’re asking a question, we know that they’ve checked to see if it’s been asked before so they shouldn’t feel bad.

Paul: Have you put anything formally around that process, like a note which points people to what they need to look at first or is it still pretty organic?

Sarah: It’s reasonably organic, except there is one post that I created as an intentional get started post. It goes “here’s the software we use and here is how we use it” because software these days has multiple functionalities. But the culture within an organisation determines how technology tends to be used.

Paul: Technology isn’t deterministic, it’s how you adopt company engagement that makes the real difference.

Sarah: Exactly, and I’m like “this is what we use for internal chat and this is where this lives” so that is a pinned post, so people check that post first and if people feel the need to add something to it they can

Paul: It’s interesting. Something that we get questions around all the time is “I’ve got Yammer, I’ve got Salesforce Chatter, I’ve got Link through Office 365, I’ve got email, I’ve got Sharepoint and I’m supposed to be doing something with Sharepoint, I’ve got some Atlassian product that I’m supposed to be doing something with this as well, I’ve got Whatsapp, Cotap, which one do I use when?” is one of those things that people struggle to navigate. Even with that guidance, is that solving the problem for people or are people still having the challenge of wondering which tool to use when?

Sarah: I think that will always be a problem when a program can do more than one thing or there’s more than one product to do one thing and that’s ok but where it covers the gap is “in my old organisation I used this like this, in your organisation, how do you use it?” so even if people are familiar with the products, it just gives them a bit of a roadmap to say “in this organisation, this is the lay of the land” and as we bring more people in, we’re getting more insights on how to use these products better

Paul: New blood brings in new experience.

Sarah: That feedback loop that can sit in Yammer.

Paul: As we kinda opened with, you’ve been on the scene for a little bit and you’ve explored different organisations. Because you’re a name that a lot of people are familiar with from people who are just starting out how they build engagement within their own networks. What are the kind of questions you get and what are the 30-seconds-or-less answers that you give people so you can move on with your day?

Sarah: I think one of the big things is “how do I start?” because people have this fear that they don’t want to get egg on their faces if it goes wrong. “I want to champion this, it’s got my name on it, how do I not stuff it up?” and one of the things I really recommend is to have a pre-planned core group of users to start off with, people who are happy to get going. So start small and then build it out. One of the organisations I worked for when we launched our Yammer network, you know how you can add contracts from your address book and invite them all, that happened and I was like “no, it’s too soon!” [laughs] but it came from a very senior person so what it accidentally did was add this clout to it.

Paul: Executive sponsorship!

Sarah: Exactly! So he accidentally championed it which was great

Paul: best Manager ever! [laughs]

Sarah: I was like “Thanks, my record might have increased slightly now that we have 300 users!” What else? Probably just about how to maintain community within a formal organisational structure. “But we’re so conservative.” And you say “but how awesome is it that you have a space to not be” and you can give people permission to share beyond… like an email is so formal and it’s great is it to liberate people from that?

Paul: One of the things that I have seen within our organisation but also with customers is executives at the top of organisations definitely see the benefit in it: breaking down silos, giving people an opportunity to voice opinions and ideas and let them surface to people who can make a difference, people on the ground love it because they feel more connected. The people that absolutely hate it with a passion are Middle Managers as their primary role is to manage communication up and down the chain. The forward-thinking Middle Managers use it to their advantage to maintain control and elevate their position in the organisation from a perception point of view or connect with people to get things done. But there’s this middle management layer which feels a loss of control when it comes to it. I think for me that’s one of the biggest – the question I get is “I wonder how you get that middle management to want to participate and let go of control of communication within the team and then if I get egg on my face, I’m waiting for that next job when my manager dies or moves on…”

Sarah: It’s funny how that’s applied, they think “if I don’t use it, it won’t happen”, it’s like “no sorry, this has already happened, are you coming?” And that’s ok, but what I tend to do or recommend people do is have offline conversations about it. Then it tends to happen via social pressure. But it’s funny when those people come across to the dark side, they become “oh I get it now!” and I’m like “I’m glad you’re there”

Paul: “what were you scared of?” It’s the fear of the unknown and no matter how much you try and talk to people about the value of it, it’s not until they see it and get their hands dirty, I think that’s the “aha” moment. We get questions around security, “what kind of things should we be posting, what shouldn’t we be posting?” is there any guidance you’d like to give?

Sarah: It’s not what should or shouldn’t we do, but what if someone posts something bad. And that’s difficult because it’s covered in every other policy. Like, you know it’s covered in Sexual Harassment, etc. Just because the system has created a different system, it doesn’t mean your system of communications changes.

Paul: If someone said that at the water cooler, the same rules apply, right?

Sarah: I think it was The ABC adopted a 4 line social media policy and the essence of it is actually one like and it’s “don’t be dumb!”

Paul: Exactly, “your name is on this!”

Sarah: Yeah, I was like “don’t be an idiot, and you’ll be fine!”

Paul: I don’t know if that keeps the lawyers happy though, that’s a challenge!

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

Paul: I like the approach. The policy already exists, how do you communicate within a brand and external communication, it’s all there…

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

Paul: Interesting… That’s something I’d never thought about before, as when you’re thinking of policy, I thought about external use of IT as a policy as a go-to, but there are always policies there that are already in place

Sarah: It’s not the first time two humans have had a conversation.

Paul: Actually it might be depending on who you have at work [laughs] because it gives people a voice who’ve never had a voice before, that man in the mailroom in the basement, he’s finally got the chance to talk to someone.

Sarah: [laughs] yeah and how awesome is that, that people can buy into the bigger vision of the company that they can go home and be like “what happened at work today?” “Well actually we just released a new product and all these people are using it and I contributed to that.”

Paul: And be part of the team. One of the questions that a lot of people have is when they’re starting out on this “that’s all very well and good, but what’s the ROI… how do we get a return on this? We’ve got to spend money on a platform, whether it’s Yammer or something else, we’ve got to spend money, potentially, hopefully on community management to put someone in a full-time or part-time capacity to manage this thing and nurture this thing, that’s going to cost us money. How do we calculate the return that we’re going to get by using this tool?”

Sarah: I struggle with that one as I don’t work with organisations who don’t get the value of accelerating the way in which we get things done. For me, I can get things done quicker and that’s the Return on Investment. One thing we don’t measure is how many emails people check and the time spent archiving or filing emails.

Paul: Most of it is boring stuff that doesn’t need responding to.

Sarah: Yeah, and for me Yammer allows me the massive opportunity to not to send a group email, so straight up that’s 5, 6, 10, 100 inboxes that don’t take the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 seconds to read and delete

Paul: and then the 15 minute cognitive lag when you’ve thought about something else and can’t get back on track.

Sarah: Exactly, and we’re not measuring that at the moment anyway so I can’t say “you’ll save this off your bottom line” but you will get things done more efficiently and more intelligently. Getting the right information at the right time, how do you measure that? At the moment we don’t but one day we will. So I’m like “hmm sorry, you don’t get it!” I avoid those questions.

Paul: Fair enough. It’s interesting that all the points you make there are pretty spot-on. A lot of the stuff people want to measure in Yammer, we don’t actually measure today: we don’t measure engagement. Some people try to in satisfaction surveys “would you recommend this place as a great place to work? Do you like the way we communicate?” and you get an arbitrary measure like “last year we were 4.23 now we’re 4.25” it doesn’t really mean anything!

Sarah: It feels good!

Paul: From a platform point of view, you’re not really talking about much money to put this technology lubricant into an organisation that will help connect people and understand their context or expertise and how you can apply their skills to help solve your problem or vice versa… all that qualitative stories that you pick up within organisations about how this tool has changed the way we have done something or helped us get a deal that we were never going to get before or help bring a product to market to solve a problem we didn’t know existed before someone in the network thought about it, explored it and we took it to market as a commercial product.

Sarah: and that’s the thing on ROIs is that they often look backwards because they go “this is what we have spent and then we spent this, what was the difference?” Well actually, if having a network of people that can talk to each other allows a sale that never would have otherwise been a discussion point come into being, where does that get measured, how does that get captured?

Paul: Profit line [laughs]

Sarah: I don’t know if that’s the best place to measure [laughs]

Paul: It’s all about people’s satisfaction and all that kind of stuff. Irrespective of whether you’re a commercial organisation like yours or mine or government agency or a non-profit, all those things apply. Even in a non-profit sense, if you go back to your volunteer experience and connect volunteers and share experiences so you’re not wasting volunteer time –

Sarah: It’s incredible, if they have a high level of engagement they will come back. “I didn’t feel like I just wasted my time, these people valued my time, I will volunteer for them again”.

Paul: I was volunteer in the Queensland State Emergency Services for five years and we had a good in-person community within our group, but there were other experiences that people were exposed to in other depots or regions around the state. Having a tool like this would have been so good from a learning example so we could learn from others. For example if a group of people who have just been to a motor crash, we could learn from the complex problem of getting someone out of the car and into the ambulance and it could be really good from two points of view. One is the decompression in getting it all out and reflecting. But doesn’t have to be a motor accident, it could be that tender presentation that you just lost or you just won! How do you decompress from that, how do you share the learnings from that with your team or organisation? Irrespective of what company you’re in, there’s a much bigger value in play here within the organisation… I’m trying to think what else we can talk about. This is the first one, so it’s been a bit rough but I think we’re getting there which is good!

Sarah: No, it’s great! I think what’s next in terms of community management internally… Yammer is now a purchase-based, it’s been purchased by Microsoft, it’s now mainstream –

Paul: it’s not cool anymore.

Sarah: No, it’s all good, “you’ve still got it guys, I love you” but I guess now it’ll be great to see what happens in a post-Yammer world. I’m really excited to see what kind of applications will come out of it. For us, now that we use Yammer every day, we’re conscious of what that does for our products. “well you know, if you can do this in Yammer, why can’t you do it in a LMS or CRM”, but the platform will allow us to have many different ways of communicating incorporated into our products

Paul: We’re seeing that with Microsoft as well. Yammer was sitting there on the side but now it’s integrated into more and more platforms, whether it’s shared online or Dynamics CRM or whatever the product is, there’ll be some sort of Yammer hook where you can take whatever you’re working on, that content, and get it into the community as a contextual conversation, irrespective of the platform and that’s the exciting thing. I think it’s going to happen not just in Yammer networks or Microsoft products, but through other products as well around the world. It’s really interesting.

Sarah: It’s exciting!

Paul: I think a good question to close on is: if you’re starting out, what are the three things that you would focus on to help take you from zero to a growing, well-engaged network?

Sarah: The first thing that I would do is to know that it will take time. You don’t start a network overnight, so being able to say “I’m going to commit to this for X period of time, be it one month or three or six” and know that’s the investment you’re going to put in up-front before you will see the results. The second tip, as I mentioned earlier, is this idea of a few people who are on your side who you can say to “I’m going to do this, here’s what you need to do to spark conversation and make this thing come alive”. And the third thing is, don’t give up! So that goes back to number one. But do keep at it and know that it will pay off and will pay off in unexpected ways, that’s the best bit. You can predict that something will happen and you can also predict that you don’t know what that something is, and that’s pretty great!

Paul: Thank you for joining us on our very first episode of The Yaminade. Plug time, if people want to listen to Sarah Moran, where can we find you?

Sarah: I’m always on Twitter @sarahmoran and I’d love you to check our learning management system Aduro: http://adurolms.com/

Sarah: Aduro is Latin for “flame”.

Paul: Beautiful, I’ll put a link on the podcast if people didn’t catch that. Thanks Sarah

Sarah: Thanks for having me!